Computer Security

Computer Crime: crimes that are committed with the aid of a computer. For example, using a computer to commit fraud by identity theft.

Hacking: attempting to gain unauthorized access to someone elseís computer.

Phishing: impersonating an official organization in the hope that the victim will pass on personal information like bank account details to the fraudster.

Pharming: hijacking the way that a browser finds specific websites over the internet, and pointing a user to a fraudulent website instead.

Virus: a self-replicating program, written to disrupt the normal use of a computer system.

Trojan: a program which the user runs thinking it will do one thing, but in reality, it does harm to the computer system.

Who is responsible?

You are responsible for the security of your own computer. However, as with breaking and entering someone elseís property; leaving a door unlocked is unwise, but it does not give a burglar the right to rob your house.

If you do suspect something is wrong, get expert help and advice quickly. But prevention is far better than cure.

What to do?

Much of what you will do is common sense here are a selection of things to remember.

  • Always keep your antivirus software up to date.
  • Never open email attachments from unrecognized senders, and always ask yourself whether a person known to you is likely to be sending you an attachment.
  • Always use passwords that are impossible for someone else to easily guess.
  • Never install software from an unrecognized source - not only pirated software, but be careful where you download patches and upgrades to existing programs from.
  • Never give anyone your password for any service. If they are authorized to investigate something, they donít need it. If they arenít, they shouldnít have it.
  • Always check warnings you receive via email with an authoritative source of information.
  • If you receive an offer from someone that seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is.


  1. Your best friend has just lost his entire Social Studies project due to a virus infection on his computer. What advice would you give him to ensure that this doesnít happen again?
  2. List one new job which has become more important due to the rise in computer security problems.
  3. Describe two ways that the Internet can be used to help you improve your computers security, and one way in which it makes your system more vulnerable to attack.
  4. Design a poster to illustrate some of the computer security advice listed above.
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