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Preparing for your digital life in the 21st Century
Preparing for your digital life in the 21st Century

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Protecting your computer

There are three main ways to protect your computer against malware.

  • Ensure that your computer has the latest patch from the producer of your operating system (OS). Microsoft, Apple and other producers frequently issue patches for their products.
  • Make sure other software is kept up to date – Adobe Reader, Flash, Java and web browsers (such as Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, etc.) to name just a few. As new malware is discovered, so new versions of software are released that guard against it.
  • Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Anti-virus software catches a very high percentage of malware, but only if the version on your computer is regularly updated. Remember that if you don’t use Windows, it is still possible to pass on files infected with malware to Windows users. That’s why the main job of anti-virus software for Apple’s OS X is to check files for things that could infect Windows machines.

In addition, you can use a piece of software called a firewall. This tries to stop unauthorised access to your computer without impeding your own authorised online access. There may be a firewall built into your computer’s operating system; others may be present in the hardware that connects your computer to the internet.

As well as the technical protections described above, you should protect yourself by using anti-virus software to scan any files you receive before you open them. This should include:

  • files you download from the Web
  • files given to you on removable media such as a CD or memory stick
  • files attached to emails.

Bear in mind that no reputable software company sends unsolicited email messages with attachments, claiming to be giving you an update.