Advice on keeping your data safe

29 January 2015

Amethyst's Ross Thomson, offers IT security advice to help you keep your data safe and secure.

The basics:

  1. Backup your data. Use an external hard drive and or use an online backup service, e.g.; some give you free storage up to a limit.

  2. Avoid weak passwords and never reuse passwords across financial sites or services, e.g. your bank, shopping websites, share dealing account, etc.

  3. Do not write passwords down but if you have to, keep them somewhere safe where they cannot be easily found.

  4. Do not download software from websites you do not trust, e.g. Video Codecs as they may be malware.

  5. Be suspicious of emails that you did not expect, particularly those asking for logon or personal information. Do not click on links or attachments in suspicious emails, just delete the email.

  6. Shred all hard copy financial and personal documentation that could be used to steal your identity, e.g. tax forms, bank & credit card statements, etc.

  7. Keep a close watch on your bank and credit card statements for fraudulent activity

  8. Do not log onto sensitive websites, e.g. your online bank over public WiFi. It is quite common to spoof these services and steal your data. Be particularly wary of cafes and transport hubs, e.g. railway stations and airports.

  9. Password/PIN protect your mobile or smart phone and note down the IMEI number in case you lose it.

  10. When you come to dispose of your computer format or remove the hard disk. Deleting the data does not actually delete the data only the pointer to it.


Technical Advice

  1. Use an anti-virus/malware product. The free ones include for example, AVG and Microsoft Essentials. The paid for products offer more services but cost around £30.00 per year.

  2. Make sure that all your software is being patched. Microsoft can do this automatically for you through Windows Update. You should also patch Adobe Acrobat reader and any other common software products that you may use, for example the Firefox browser. Secunia Psi is a useful tool that supports effective patch management; see

  3. Use the operating system firewall.

  4. If you are using wireless internet at home make sure the signal is encrypted. Most new wireless routers will automatically encrypt using WPA-PSK or better. Older products may use WEP, which can be cracked in seconds. To be even more secure turn on MAC address filtering.

  5. Create restore points before making significant changes to your system.


Family Advice

  1. Inform your family or partner about the risks of using the Internet. and are good sites for those of you with children and covers a whole raft of issues.

  2. Set up password protected User accounts on your computer and ensure that only you and or your wife have administrator rights.

  3. Ensure that social networking sites are configured to protect your privacy. Remember once the data is posted it is potentially there forever.

Contact us for more information

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