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Good Practice Guide

Passwords are used to protect user data, but some users use passwords which are easily cracked and that includes using “password” as their password. When you need a secure system, such as in a business environment, you should consider whether you need to use password complexity rules.

There are tools available for cracking passwords and those based on dictionary words are very easily broken. You should never write your passwords down, or disclose them, unless you know the risks and the person to whom you are disclosing them (never disclose banking passwords, or pin numbers).

Many people have one password for everything and if this extends to banking passwords you run the risk of providing help for someone to access your bank account.

Never disclose your password in an email as this is not absolutely secure.

Avoid using telephone numbers, dates of birth, family members’ names, or pet names, or names of your favourite football team, or its players.

Passwords over 10 characters in length and containing both letters, numbers and symbols are the most difficult to crack.

Use Good Passwords

Use Virus software and Firewall

Windows 10 comes with a pretty good firewall and virus protection in the form of Defender.  Other third party software is available but may conflict with the Defender and we are not convinced that anything other than Defender is needed.  Hardware suppliers have often done deals with virus software providers to include their software in new computers, this is free for a limited period after which you need to subscribe.  We think subscribing is a waste of money.  Just make sure Windows Defender is up and running.

Some routers also have inbuilt firewalls which it is good to have switched on.

Phishing is the name given to a practice of trying to extract user account details from an individual, in order to obtain access to information and systems, which will give the originator access to perhaps your financial accounts e.g. bank accounts.

Those responsible for phishing attacks work on the basis that, if they send out enough emails they will eventually find someone who responds.

Emails will be sent purporting to come from your bank, or other financial institution, HMRC, or from someone who has funds to invest.  They may claim that your account is about to be closed down, or that your password is about to expire and you need to update them now. They will appear to direct you to the genuine site of the bank etc, but in actual fact they are sites owned by the phisher. If you enter your sign on details, which they request, this information will be captured by them and can be used by them to access your funds and transfer them.

Some of these scams rely on greed and sound very plausible, but you must bear in mind, that if you are being asked by someone to enter your account details it will be a scam and you risk financial loss by responding.

Remember banks and financial institutions will not contact you and request you to enter your password, or user details.

In some case following the link from a phishing scam may cause a virus or Trojan to be installed on your computer.

Phishing can also be instigated by telephone calls, where you are told there is something wrong with your bank account.  If anyone calls you and asks you to tell them your pin number, or transfer money to a new account which they have set up for you, it will be a fraud, an attempt to steal money from you.  Don’t be caught out by calling the number on the back of you bank cards, as the criminals may have held your telephone line open.  Use another phone if you can or wait at least 15 minutes before calling the number on your card.

Phishing

The importance of backing up your computer and data files cannot be understated. There are several programs available to undertake backups, Symantec, Norton, Acronis and Zone Alarm are just a few examples.  Some of these give you some on line storage, but you must ask yourself the question about whether you are happy for others to be holding your data, and do you know how secure it is?

Some releases of Windows included backup options.  All the latest versions of Windows i.e. from 7 have backup features and some of the previous releases.

A good means of backing up your files and system is to back up to an external hard disk drive, which we can provide at competitive prices.  Be sure to buy a drive which is large enough for your needs.

You can also backup to DVDs, but this may require a large number of DVDs in some cases.

Don’t keep your backups with your computer if possible.  If you have a fire in the room you may lose the original and the backup.

It is recommended that you test your backup from time to time to ensure that you can restore a file if you need to.

Backups