All computer users should be aware of the security threats that exist and take the necessary steps to prevent this. There are many threats and they vary in degree of seriousness: spam & phishing mails, viruses, spyware, malware, Trojans, Botnets and Ransomware.
Never give a stranger remote access to your computer. If you need remote assistance for IT support, make sure you use a company or person who is trust-worthy. Many have also fallen victim to the Microsoft call centre scam where the person pretends to represent Microsoft and warns users of security threats on their PC. They gain access to the PC by giving the person instructions to follow and then informs them of the cost for support. They can even access your bank and other secure sites and mail, especially if you have passwords auto-saved.
Firewalls are the first line of defence in protecting computers. A firewall filters the network traffic on the basis of certain pre-set rules, hence protecting one network from another and watches for malicious access attempts. However, there are other tools that can be used to protect the networks like antivirus software, anti-hacker tools, etc. Protecting personal computers using PC monitoring tools, file protection tools and password security tools further enhances the security of small networks. A paid for package of security software has advantages over free software as it offers more comprehensive cover and protection like anti-spyware, a firewall solution, with simple access for the user to change or modify. The systems will update simultaneously, and automatically using the latest virus information.
Do not give out your Wi-Fi password to any visitor as your personal shared files might be exposed if you do not take steps to protect yourself. You need to set a password to your network in order to keep it hidden from a neighbour, a good password has at least 10 characters and includes numbers, letters and various symbols. Make sure the network encryption is set to WPA2 and that all your PCs and notebooks have firewall protection. When you are accessing a public Wi-Fi network, ensure your network sharing is turned off and make sure your firewall is enabled.
Banks and secure pay portals have made many changes to security features and are therefore relatively safe to use (unless there are botnet, malware or key-logging software installed on your computer). Phishing mails often lure people into filling in their bank/e-mail details and passwords which then gives the scammers access to their bank or personal details. Never reply to emails requesting bank details, usernames and passwords! Fraud for card-not-present transactions (completed over the phone or online) increased considerably over the last decade as neither a PIN nor a signature is required when customers use their cards online, so simply stealing card numbers is sufficient for this kind of fraud.