THE answers to V Harper-Wilkinson s questions (Letters, August 30) are not as simple as you might think. In the old days, computer viruses and hacking were the domain of computer geeks and students for fame between their peers. That still goes on today,

THE answers to V Harper-Wilkinson's questions (Letters, August 30) are not as simple as you might think.

In the old days, computer viruses and hacking were the domain of computer geeks and students for fame between their peers. That still goes on today, but there is a bigger threat from organised crime.

Money is invested to make money and your computer is just collateral damage. These hi-tech criminals use unprotected computers to gain information or take control so that they can use your location rather than their own, thus protecting themselves from detection.

These criminals are after your personal information (credit cards, bank details and passwords etc) plus all the e-mail addresses on your computer which they use to spread their Malware (the collective title for viruses, spam, spyware, Trojan horses).

There are a number of simple tools and practices that would help you to reduce the threat to your computing including: use a hardware-based firewall on your Internet connection; ensure that you keep up with all the Microsoft security updates (from Microsoft Explorer, under the tools menu option, Windows update).

Have an anti-virus and Internet security package subscription that is updated all the time (you get what you pay for) and make sure you have turned on the features of this package (not always set out of the box).

Perform regular full scans. Do not open email from people you do not know or expect. Do not open file attachments in e-mails you do not expect.

Turn off the e-mail preview panel, as this activates some Malware.

Never click NO on a pop-up window. Always click on the red X in the top right hand corner of the pop-up. Do not install software from untrusted sources. Be wary of magazine disks.

Always use original licensed software. Back up your personal files and e-mail to a CD or DVD or USB Flash drive on a regular basis.

Take a basic computer course like ECDL at your local college to help you use your computer better and understand what is inside.

Nothing will protect you 100 per cent but, if you follow my recommendations, they should reduce the amount and the impact of the attacks.

TERRY DOWNING, Wisdom Communications, Ash Court, Brampton