How to protect your computer

When using the internet, you’re going to come across many different threats, including hackers, viruses, scams and spyware. These threats can tamper with your computer, steal your personal data, or spy on your computer activities. Thankfully, there are many ways to improve your computer safety and fend off these attacks. Read on to find out how to protect your computer from various threats and how Virgin Media customers can get top-notch protection with their broadband.

What are the risks to your computer?

A computer virus, like any other kind of virus, spreads between devices and can cause a host of problems. They can mess with your files, steal your information, or even lock you out of your computer entirely.

Spyware is a general term for software that is downloaded onto your computer to gather information about you and your device, not always with your permission. Spyware can be installed secretly onto your computer and collect your data without you knowing, sending the information to third-parties over the internet.

These threats to your computer can be downloaded without your knowledge. Usually, they will be attached to files you download from the internet or attached to spam texts or emails.

Remote Access Trojans are a type of malware capable of performing secret surveillance on your computer and giving hackers remote access. This means that a hacker can take complete control of your computer and essentially lock you out.

RATs are usually downloaded without your knowledge, attached to files or downloaded directly from webpages. It can be hard to tell if you’ve accidentally downloaded a RAT because your computer won’t show signs of being infected until the hackers make themselves known.

Ransomware is a particular type of virus that hackers can use to lock you out of your computer and hold it for ransom. Usually, they will demand payment in exchange for returning access to your computer but giving in to their demands doesn’t guarantee that you will get your computer back. Hackers that use ransomware can be sneaky about the way they operate, sometimes pretending to be the police or an official government body to trick you into handing over payment.

Spam emails can come in many forms, sometimes even coming from the people you know and trust. Spam emails are sent for a variety of malicious reasons. Some emails will try to get you to send money or hand over your personal details, making offers that are too good to be true. Others can be a bit sneakier, sending website links or downloadable attachments that infect your computer with a virus.

For more information about spam, you can read our section What is Spam and How to Protect Yourself.

How to protect your computer

Anti-virus software is a form of computer safety that will protect your computer from malicious viruses and regularly scan your computer for any software or code that isn’t supposed to be there. If you already have anti-virus software installed, you need to make sure that it is up to date with the latest version to maximise your protection.

Spam emails are becoming more and more sophisticated and harder to detect. They also can clog up your inbox and make managing your emails a real chore. Thankfully, Virgin Media email has automatic spam controls which block emails that have been identified as spam.

In the rare case that a spam email manages to get through spam filters, look out for these signs of a spam email.

  • The email does not address you personally by name.

  • It contains spelling mistakes and bad grammar

  • The sender’s name looks suspicious. Some spammers will try to spoof popular domain names to trick you into clicking on suspicious links. For example, the email might come from ‘’ instead of ‘’, or ‘’ instead of ‘’.

  • It contains suspicious links or attachments.

If you use broadband, a firewall is an essential protection measure for your computer. Firewalls are a form of defence for your network – computer hardware or software – that monitor incoming and outgoing traffic. They block outsiders from gaining unauthorised access to your computer via the internet as well as block malicious software from infecting your device.

Knowing how to protect your computer isn’t just about defending against digital threats. Damaging or losing your computer could mean that you lose access to your precious files. You can’t always prevent an accident occurring, which is why it is worth it to back up your computer data.

Virgin Media offers a free backup service to broadband customers. With this service, you use the Virgin Media Cloud to save and access your files from anywhere on an unlimited number of devices. Now you never have to worry about losing your precious files again.

Always be aware of what you’re clicking on when browsing the internet. There are a lot of misleading advertisements and popups that contain dangerous links that can put your computer at risk. Before clicking a link, think twice about whether you trust it and be wary of giving out any personal details to people online.

When you download files from the internet, you don’t always know what you’re going to get. Many scammers use pirated films, games, or software to sneak malicious malware onto their victim’s computer. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to downloading files online. Avoiding pirated material online is the best way to protect your computer from attacks from scammers and hackers.

Getting files and software from a USB can be just as risky as downloading them from the internet. It’s not always obvious what is stored on an external device, so connecting to devices you don’t know can risk exposing your computer to threats. For the sake of computer safety, it’s better to be safe than sorry and think twice before you share files with external devices.

Having a password stolen can be devastating. With your passwords, hackers may be able to access all sorts of personal data and personal information, possibly even your bank details. There are a lot of ways you can keep your account secure, and when it comes to passwords there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent hackers getting their hands on them.

Firstly, don’t use the same password for multiple different accounts. Doing so could mean that a hacker with access to one account could have access to them all. Try to create a unique password for each account you make and avoid writing your passwords down in a place where they can be seen. Keep them safe and stored away.

When creating a password, follow these steps to create a secure password:

  • Avoid common password phrases such as your name or ‘password’.

  • Use numbers, special characters, and capital letters strategically.

  • Create a password with at least 8 characters.

Most software providers regularly deliver patches and service packs with their software to upgrade the computer safety measures they have in place. These updates may include features to improve your computer’s defences against viruses and malware. By regularly updating your computer’s software, you stand the best chance to protect your computer against the latest threats.

The best ways to protect your computer from spyware is by installing anti-spyware protection as well as spyware removal software. These will block and clear away any spyware that might sneak its way onto your device.

It may seem like an obvious part of essential computer safety, but we don’t always think twice about leaving our devices unattended. If you are using a laptop in any sort of public place, keep it with you at all times. You should also be aware that even people you trust may unintentionally put your computer at risk. A friend or family member that isn’t aware of the dangers may click on suspicious links or download files that contain a virus.

To prevent this from happening, Virgin Fibre customers can use WebSafe to block certain websites. Control how to protect your computer with a range of settings, including blocking access to dangerous websites and protecting against sites with malicious content.

When you use a public WiFi connection, you can expose your computer to a lot of dangers. There are number of different ways hackers can attack or snoop on your computer when you connect to a public WiFi. To prevent this from happening, avoid connecting to networks that you don’t know and trust and disable your device’s auto-connect to networks.

Rather than connecting to a public business’s WiFi, Virgin customers can connect to Virgin hotspots on the go. Just be sure to double check that you’re connecting to the correct WiFi hotspot and avoid sending or accessing any sensitive information while you’re connected.

To learn even more about how to protect your computer, check out the Virgin Media online security blogs.