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Interpol document: Private Checklist - advice for private use of computers

Private Checklist
Advice for private use of computers

  1. Theft of computers
  2. Malicious program code (Virus, Worms, Trojan horses etc.)
  3. Protect your data from unauthorised access
  4. Misuse of your Internet account
  5. Electronic Commerce
  6. Software piracy
  7. Employer’s information
  8. "Illegal" information
  9. Anonymity on Internet
 10. Backup

1. Theft of computers                                     [Top]
Theft of computers is very common. Companies often install
safety-doors, alarm-systems and use data-safes for backups. At
home, employees' computers are much more vulnerable.

Don’t expose your computer unnecessarily. If it can be seen
through the window you might be the next victim if a thief
explores your neighbourhood. Use removable hard disks. You can
then put your disk away in a safe place if you are going to
leave your computer unattended for a longer period. It is
recommended that you protect your data with encryption, so that
no one can read your private data.

2. Malicious program code (Virus, Worms, Trojan horses
etc.)                                                     [Top]
One specific type of virus program is the Trojan Horse that
creates possibilities for others to take control of your system
(backdoors). Programs like NetBus, Back Orifice, Bubbles, Back
Door etc., make it possible for an intruder to take control of
your computer.

Install «Anti-virus software» and don’t forget to update it
continuously. Obtain information from your ISP, software
supplier, CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team)- organisations
on how to detect such malicious programs. They all have
information on the Internet to support you. If you are a victim
– disconnect from the net and clear your computer of the
malicious program. Take backups of your user data frequently
because there are no 100 % reliable anti-virus tools.

3. Protect your data from unauthorised access             [Top]
Advice :
To protect your data from unauthorised access it is recommended
that you use a BIOS-password and a screen-saver-password. If you
have sensitive data there are methods to encrypt the whole disk
online (data will always be stored on the disk in encrypted

A useful method to secure data from unauthorised people is to
keep them away from it. If it is necessary to transmit such
files via e-mail or the postal service you cannot be sure that
no one, other than the authorised person, can get access to it
or is able to read it. In those cases a recommended measure is
to work with encryption programs.

One of the most famous cryptography program is Pretty Good
Privacy, better known as PGP, but a lot of other good programs
are in existence, and may be found on the Internet. Be sure that
you get the programs from trustworthy sources

With these kinds of programs it is possible to secure e-mails,
hard disks, folders or only a normal file like a Word-document.

4. Misuse of your Internet account                        [Top]
It is quite popular to attempt to get hold of other users'
accounts on the Internet. The main purpose is to avoid billing
or to act with other people’s identity for different reasons.

Change passwords frequently and do not use to short or simple
passwords. Use the principle one person one password. Don’t even
share your password with the rest of your family. You can’t be
sure what your kids and their friends are doing. This is very
important if you are using Internet banking. If something goes
wrong, your bank will probably not accept losses if you share
your password with someone else, even if it is a family member.

5. Electronic Commerce                                    [Top]
Many people use the Internet for buying goods like books, CDs

Preferably use only systems with specific safeguards. Never buy
goods by giving your credit card number and the expiration date
without encryption on the Internet (be sure that it is a trusted
service - normally you can see the key image for using
encryption on your screen). Always check your bills from credit
card companies and banks. Be aware, when you are using your
credit card in a point-of-sale system in a shop, most of the
card information will be printed at the receipt. Don’t leave the
receipt in the shop. Bring it with you.

6. Software piracy                                        [Top]
Copyright laws in most countries cover computer software.

Be sure you only use software you are authorised to use. If you
are not sure about software from your employer, - ask the IT
person responsible at your place of work. Sometimes licenses are
written in a way that makes it possible for the employees to use
them at home.

7. Employer’s information                                 [Top]
Many people bring computers from their work to their home or
they use their private computers to process their employer’s

Never work with your employer’s information on your private PC
without their approval. If something goes wrong confidential
information might be exposed to unauthorised people.

8. "Illegal" information                                  [Top]
Some information in databases might be considered as illegal.
Examples are child pornography, threats against people, racist
material etc.

If you come across this kind of information, contact your local
police authority.

9. Anonymity on Internet                                  [Top]
Many people feel anonymous on the Internet. Especially if they
are using Internet providers that claim they offer anonymity.

There are many ways to trace your identity. Be careful if you
are giving away personal data on the Internet. You leave a lot
of information everywhere. Do not do anything on the Internet
that you cannot take responsibility for.

10. Backup                                                [Top]
At your office someone is allocated to, and responsible for,
securing your data (making copies of all data, so called
backups). At home you have to do it yourself.

Make copies of your user data on a regular basis. If you don’t
have access to backup-media for large volumes you can always
make backups of your most important data files to a floppy disk.
Standard software is normally possible to reload from other
sources than your own backup. However, a total backup of the
complete system is preferable. There are special storage devices
available on the market for making backups. Save important data
in two different places.

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