Stephen J. Dann
~ ITPA ~
UK Tax Advisor

Computer and Internet Security

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With a website of this nature, internet security is a serious issue, and I detail, below, some measures which you may wish to take in order to ensure that any personal information you divulge over the Internet remains private and confidential. Although my company is comparatvely small, with just four staff, I recognise the need to employ safeguards to detect and prevent attacks involving the internet. Employees are monitored rigorously and told what threats are likely so that they can report suspicious activities. They are alert to phony e-mails intended to trick them into sharing personal details or access codes or into clicking links that download malware, and anything suspicious is brought to my attention. Data is often stored on company flash-drives which are disconnected from the computer when not in use and are not allowed for personal use. Employees' personal devices are subject to the same rigrous anti-virus and security protocols as company hardware. Any business, however small, can fall victim to the vast amount of dishonest activity on the internet and I keep abreast of developments to ensure that neither my systems or my staff become responsible for leakage of client data.


In the first instance, if you are using a public computer I recommend you check whether Google Desktop Search has been installed. If so then you should disable it for your entire session since it retains any passwords and other sensitive information you may use.


All computers are vulnerable to external attack from viruses, worms, and trojan horses. These can disable your software and sometimes make the computer incapable of working. Trojan Horses even enable others to take control of your computer, often by logging keystrokes thereby revealing passwords.


Spyware is software which can be placed on your computer without your knowledge when you access some websites. Its purpose is to provide companies with information about your computer and in particular which websites you visit. It can be used to obtain passwords and other confidential information.


To engineers, a firewall is a solid wall that prevents fires from spreading throughout a building. Homes, for example, may have a firewall between the garage and the rest of the house to prevent garage fires from reaching the living accommodation. With the rapid growth of the Internet, the term "firewall" is more commonly used in computer networking. Like the firewalls used in homes and buildings, computer firewalls act as a barrier between different computers. For companies with a computer network or for individuals with an internet connection a firewall is critical. Without a firewall, intruders could destroy, tamper with, or simply read files on your computer.


I also recommend you use a web browser other than Internet Explorer. Due to the popularity of IE it is the first choice of developers who create viruses and spyware since their software will reach the widest audience if it is suitable for IE. In this connection I use Firefox which is recommended by Google. Far fewer viruses and adware programmes have had to be blocked by my system since Firefox was installed.
If using a public computer I recommend that at the completion of each session you click the "Tools" tab on your Browser, select "Internet Options" and clear all of the entries, especially files, and cookies.

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