- Install anti-spyware software to prevent unwanted programmes, which can pop up with unwanted adverts, track on-line activities, or scan the computer for private data such as credit card numbers. It can make the computer run slowly and become unreliable, and make your parent a target for on-line criminals. This software can be downloaded for free on-line
- Install anti-virus software. Without it, you are at risk from viruses, which spread from computer to computer in email attachments and files downloaded from websites. If the computer is infected by one, it can make it slow or even leave you open to identity theft. Again, this software can be downloaded for free on-line
- Turn on your firewall. A firewall is a protective barrier between the computer and the internet and will prevent viruses getting through and stop others connecting to your parent’s computer without permission. Most computers come with a firewall, so make sure that it’s switched on
- Ensure that the operating system is updated. The operating system – the main software programme on your computer – manages all the other programs on it. Generally, the latest version of an operating system is more secure than previous versions. If you use Windows, find the Windows Update icon – this could be in your Start Menu or listed in ‘All programs’, or go to the Windows Update site at windowsupdate.microsoft.com. There are instructions on the site that will enable your computer to automatically download and install updates as they become available
- Protect your wireless router if you have one, so that people living nearby can’t access it. A wireless router allows access to broadband internet from anywhere in your home. Read the instructions that came with the router to find out how to set up defences. You will be able to use a ‘key’, a type of password, so that no one else can access the internet through their router.
- Security software such as Norton, McAfee, or an effective free alternative such as Microsoft Security Essentials will protect your parent’s computer from viruses and spyware. Once the software is installed, keep it up to date when prompted – this happens automatically (your parent just has to click ‘yes’ or ‘allow’)