Having up to date security protection on your computer and a secure internet connection make it less likely that you will have your computer infected by a virus, have your personal information stolen or misused, or have your internet connection used for illegal activities.
Install internet security software and keep it up to date. Companies like Norton Internet Security and AVG Internet Security offer products with multiple security features such as anti-spyware, anti-virus and firewall protection. Make sure your security software is set up to automatically receive updates.
Keep all your other software up to date. Maintaining up-to-date software for your operating system, your browser and other software (eg Adobe Reader) is important to reduce the threat of new viruses and spyware attacks. Install any legitimate updates promptly.
Don't respond to pop up messages or emails offering security or other software. These messages are likely to be hoaxes. Responding to these offers may result in your computer being infected with a virus or other malicious software.
Don't install unfamiliar software. Only download software from a trusted source.
Back up your data. Performing a regular back-up of your data (eg to a CD) will help you recover your information if a virus destroys your files, or your computer is stolen or damaged.
Turn off the wireless router if you are not using it. Nobody can attempt to hack into your Wi-Fi connection if it is turned off.
Use encryption. All Wi-Fi equipment supports some form of encryption. Encryption technology scrambles messages sent over wireless networks. We suggest you use at least WPA encryption. Do not use WEP encryption as this is no longer considered safe.
Use a strong router password. A strong password helps reduce the risk your password will be cracked. Change the default password supplied with the router. Avoid using something obvious like your street name. We recommend using a combination of letters and numbers.
Change the router's default name and the SSID name. The router's default name generally indicates the manufacturer, which is helpful information to a hacker who may identify your browser and guess its default settings.
The SSID is a unique ID used for naming wireless networks. It ensures the network name is different from other nearby networks. Don't name it with your personal or family name.
Place your router as centrally as possible in your house. This limits how far a strong signal reaches outside your property, helping to stop other people using your Wi-Fi signal.
Restrict access by MAC address. Each device you use wirelessly will have a MAC number. Enter these MAC numbers into your router to control which devices will be allowed to connect.
Turn off the Wi-Fi auto-connect feature on your mobile device. Only connect to Wi-Fi hotspots you believe to be trustworthy. Some hotspots may record what you do, or host malware.
Have firewall protection. Have firewall protection from the wireless access point and to the network.
Use strong passwords. Using strong passwords and changing them regularly makes it hard for other people to access your computer. Passwords should be more than 8 characters long and consist of a mixture of upper and lower case letters and at least one non-letter character.
Use different passwords for different accounts. Using the same password for more than one account could give an attacker access to your other online accounts. Use longer passwords for more important accounts.
Don't allow your browser to 'Remember' passwords for important accounts. This could allow anyone using your computer to access your account.
Never send your password in an email or store it in plain text on your computer. Emails are like postcards for anyone who accesses them.
Set your browser options carefully. Setting your security levels to 'high' provides the most protection. But restricting certain features may limit some web pages from loading or functioning properly. Disable the majority of features unless they are necessary. If you visit a trusted site you can enable a feature temporarily and then disable it once you are finished. Make sure you log out of any websites before closing your browser.
Remove all personal data before disposing of your old computer. Special wiping software can be downloaded or purchased to help you clean your hard drive. The other option is to physically destroy the hard disk.