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Is your e-mail safe? How can you protect your computer from hackers? - 1st October 2019

  • Ever had a suspicious e-mail?

  • Do you know someone that has been hacked?

  • How are you going to protect your computer from hackers?

"If your computer is wireless or does not use any antivirus software and is used not just by you, your email address and password is completely at risk." - (Wikihow 30/09/2019)

Firstly, if you are using wireless make sure that you use a WPA key on your wireless internet connection - it's best to have the latest version of security as, in reality, we are always at least one step behind the hackers.

You can add or change a WPA key in Windows 10 by:

  • Go to Settings → Network and Internet → Network and Sharing Center.

  • Click the “Wi-Fi” link to bring up the WiFi Status dialog

  • In the Wi-Fi status dialog, click “Wireless Properties”

  • This brings up the Wireless Network Properties dialog. Click the “Security” tab.

  • And your WPA key is in the “Network Security Key” field.

  • But you need to checkmark “Show Characters” to see it.

  • Your Windows 10 remembers this key

If a guest user wants to use your Internet on his or her device and asks for the WiFi WPA key, it is best to turn on your WiFi router’s guest access that uses a separate passphrase and give that instead. That way the guest WiFi is not able to access the local router access admin URL. And if his or her laptop gets stolen, the main WPA passphrase is not found on his or her laptop

Secondly, check your e-mail settings and set them for the level of security that you are prepared to accept. If you're using Microsoft Outlook, then:

  • Right-click on an e-mail in your Inbox

  • Junk

  • Junk E-mail Options

Use the radio buttons to select the level of security that you require.

We would recommend that all of your e-mail addresses have at the very least the 'Low' level of protection. Any e-mail addresses that are public or that you use for subscription services should be set to 'High'.

If you are particularly sensitive then you can set it on 'Safe-Lists Only' - but make sure that you have everyone's correct e-mail address correctly marked as being 'safe' on your list or you won't get any and won't send any either!

The bottom section of tick-boxes should also be completed. It makes sense to tick the Microsoft recommended settings to 'Disable Links...' and 'Warn...about suspicious domain names in e-mail addresses.'

Thirdly, get an antivirus software programme from a reputable source - do not respond to random e-mails (purporting to be from antivirus companies) with download links; research the antivirus companies out there and go directly to their web-site to purchase. There are some free ones out there, but if you're in business, you should really go for one that you buy - you'll need their support at some time on the future for sure. If you're a small business you can get overall control of the antivirus settings on your networked computers via a 'console' which you alone can have access to.

Lastly, use common sense. If it doesn't look right... if you at all suspicious of it... leave it be for a second or two... If you have antivirus on your computer and it is a 'dodgy' e-mail then give your antivirus a few moments to work - it may quarantine it straight away!

If the e-mail purports to be from a particular organisation and you're suspicious, contact them directly but don't use any of the contact details in the suspect e-mail.

Most charities do not send out requests directly, they invite you to go on their own web-site to make a donation so don't respond to an e-mail request purporting to be from a 'bona-fide' charity because your donation might be towards some hacker's holiday fund rather than to help a 'sick child'.

A couple of other points, it is well worth regularly checking your spam box just in case some legitimate e-mails fall into it by accident; and when you're sending e-mails to lots of people at once, it is a more secure practice to send them via the 'BCC' (the 'blind copy') field so that the recipient can't see all the others e-mail addresses.

Get safe on-line is: '...the UK’s leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety.

Their site is well worth a look to see if there is anything else you can do.

One final note, if you have lost money as a result of a phishing email, or via any other fraudulent activity then report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting If you are in Scotland, contact Police Scotland on 101. If you’ve experienced cybercrime, you can contact the charity Victim Support for free and confidential support and information.

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