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Isle of Man Government
Reiltys Ellan Vannin
Isle of Man Government Crest

O.F.T

Isle of Man Government Office of Fair Trading

Keeping Your Home PC Safe

The Office of Fair Trading has recently warned Island residents about a number of “scams” involving telephone callers telling users that their computers have a virus and that for a charge they will deal with the virus and its effects for them. The callers often say they are from “Microsoft” or “Windows” and may call themselves “engineers”. The callers ask for banking/credit card details which they can then use to clear out their victims accounts. It is easy to panic when you receive a call like this – particularly if you are not skilled in computing. A number of people have fallen victim to these scams on the Island.

But what actions can you take to make your home computing more secure. Allan Paterson, the Director of Isle of Man Government’s Information Systems Division at the Department of Economic Development offers this advice:

Protect your computer:

  • Make sure you have up-to-date anti-virus software, anti-spyware software and a firewall, and that you let them get automatic updates
  • Make sure your operating system is up-to-date and automatically updated
  • Make sure you use up-to-date applications, such as your web browser or word processing package, again allowing automatic updates
  • Encrypt your wireless network if you have one
  • Block spam or junk emails, using the rules in your e-mail system – if you get junk into your main inbox, move it to the junk folder

Stay vigilant online:

  • Use different strong passwords – not dictionary words - a mix of letters, numbers, special characters
  • Be very careful about how much personal information (away from home, date of birth, address, etc) you give away on blogs and social networking sites
  • Make sure you activate privacy settings on social networking sites
  • Don’t open email attachments or website links from people you don’t know, and don’t open them from people you do know unless you’re absolutely sure that it’s a genuine message

Mr Paterson also raised the issue of chainmail emails warning users of viruses which are circulating and where in reality the virus would be picked up by up-to-date anti-virus software. His advice is rather than perpetuate the chain potentially clogging up the internet and spreading panic, users can check out the validity of the warning at www.snopes.com and www.hoax-slayer.com

Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading, Bill Henderson MHK said “I would encourage everyone to take heed of Mr Paterson’s advice. So many of us now use home computers but few of us can claim to be “experts” in their use. We can though take steps to protect ourselves from both viruses and scams. And remember – if you get a ‘phone call out of the blue telling you there is something wrong with your PC don’t be too polite to hang up the ‘phone.”

Further information on keeping your home PC safe can be found at www.getsafeonline.org.

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