Choosing Anti-virus/Anti-spyware Software

Last updated on September 3rd, 2019

It is important when choosing anti-virus/anti-spyware software to be vigilant in selecting a reputable company, as there are many fake anti-virus/anti-spyware programs which claim to clear viruses but are actually a threat in themselves.

Expensive and popular does not always mean the best. For example, two of the most popular – Norton and McAfee have in the past been outperformed by free alternatives like AVG and Avast.

In most cases, these so-called ‘free’ products are no-frills versions of commercial products which the manufacturer hopes you will upgrade to in the future. The protection factor is likely to be equivalent to the paid-for version, but there may be limited or no technical support and some reduced functionality, for example in scheduling full scans.

Standalone or Security Suite anti-virus software.

Most anti-virus/anti-spyware software companies sell both a Standalone Program that only scans for viruses, as well as selling full security packages that provide other protection including firewall, spam filtering, anti-spyware and parental controls.

A Security Suite should include everything you need to protect your PC against online threats, is easy to use as everything is controlled from one screen, and is cheaper than buying each component separately.

How to choose an anti-virus software

Once you have assessed your needs and decided whether you want a stand-alone product or a security suite, you can begin the process of choosing an antivirus software. Follow these steps before buying your software:

  • A good antivirus software should offer real-time protection (meaning it's always on) and auto-update feature to guard against new viruses
  • Investigate how easy a product is to set up and use. Download a free trial version of the software you are interested in, and try it out. Do not install more than one trial version at a time because they may interfere with each other. Make sure also that it doesn’t slow down your PC significantly when the Real-time protection and Web Shield are switched on.
  • Make sure the product you are considering has multiple options for Technical Support, including email and a help line.

See more at:

‘Surf’ Internet Safely

Last updated on September 16th, 2019

Online Security is a branch of computer security specifically related to Internet which includes browser security but also network security, while operating system security is included at a more general level.

Browser security is where internet browsers are protected from malware like spyware and phishing which can compromise user security while browsing the internet.

The Risks of Using Internet

The risks of visiting malicious, criminal or inappropriate websites include:

  • Viruses and spyware (collectively known as malware).
  • Phishing, designed to obtain your personal and/or financial information and possibly steal your identity.
  • Fraud, from fake shopping, banking, charity, dating, social networking, gaming, gambling and other websites.
  • Copyright infringement – copying or downloading copyright protected software, videos, music, photos or documents.
  • Exposure to unexpected inappropriate content.
  • When you use the internet, your internet service provider, search engine, law enforcement agencies and possibly (if browsing at work) your employer, will still be able to see which sites you have visited or keywords you have searched for.

Precautions to Take While Using Internet

Here are the main precautions to take before accessing Internet…

  • Always ensure that you are running the latest version of your chosen browser that your operating system will support. Also, be sure to download and install the latest updates.
  • Ensure you have effective and updated anti-virus/anti-spyware software and firewall running before you go online. – see section Choosing anti-virus/anti-spyware Software

To prevent unauthorised access to your personal details or to avoid fraudulent websites…

  • Always remember to log out of a secure website when you have completed your transaction, and before you close the browser. Closing the browser does not necessarily log you out.
  • Check for presence of an address, phone number and/or email contact – often indications that the website is genuine. If in doubt, send an email or call to establish authenticity.
  • Check that the website’s address seems to be genuine by looking for subtle misspellings, extra words, characters or numbers or a completely different name from that you would expect the business to have.
  • If there is NO padlock in the browser window or ‘https://’ at the beginning of the web address to signify that it is using a secure link, do not enter personal information on the site.
  • Websites which request more personal information than you would normally expect to give, such as user name, password or other security details IN FULL, are probably malicious.
  • Avoid ‘pharming’ by checking the address in your browser's address bar after you arrive at a website to make sure it matches the address you typed. This will prevent you ending up at a fake site even though you entered the address for the authentic one. This can occur due to browser malware which redirects a user to a fraudulent website.
  • Always get professional advice before making investment decisions. Sites that hype investments for fast or high return – whether in shares or alleged rarities like old wine, whisky or property – are often fraudulent.

Above Risks and Precautions taken from:


Cookies are stored on your computer, smartphone or tablet, by websites to store information about your browsing habits during sessions. Most of the time they are innocuous – where they keep track of your username and usage preferences - (username is stored so that you don't have to log into a website every time you visit it). However, some are used to track sites you visit so that they can target advertising at you, or by criminals to build a profile of your interests and activities with a view to fraud.

As these cookies usually store relevant information to provide a seamless user experience on a website, some websites will not work if you block cookies completely. So, rather than setting your browser to block them, an alternative solution is to use an add-on like Privacy Badger (available for Chrome or Firefox) or Stealth Mode (available for Chrome), to block tracking cookies. See section Privacy and security Add-ons for more details.

Reviewing Your Google Account

PC Tutor Note: I recorded the steps below when I reviewed my own Google Account Privacy Settings (June 2018). As I am an experienced computer user, I can hopefully demonstrate good practice when making these changes.

Getting Started

To get started with reviewing your Google Account, visit My Account, which takes you to a dashboard with sections for Sign-in & Security, Personal info & Privacy, and Account Preferences.

Your personal info

The first section to check is ‘Your personal info’ where you can manage this basic information – your name, email and phone number – to help others find you on Google products like Hangouts, Gmail and Maps, and make it easier for others to get in touch. The About me section is particularly important as it controls what people see about you across the Google products.

The next step is to perform a Privacy Checkup and Security Checkup.

Perform a Security Checkup

When you click Security Checkup, a pop-up will show the following info:

  • Your devices
  • Third-party access
  • Recent security activity
  • 2-Step Verification (whether it's on or not).

Google Security Checkup

Any items marked with a yellow warning exclamation circle should get a once over. For example, if you see devices you no longer use listed under ‘Your Devices’, remove them. Third-party access will list apps and services that have access to your Google data - some of which could be problematic.

See this article for more details…

Performing a Privacy Check-up

A Privacy Check-up lets you review important settings that determine what data is stored by Google and how they use data they hold.

Google Activity Control: Web & App Activity

If you turn this setting on, Google will save your searches and other Google activity to your Google Account. You can also choose to save which apps you use, your Chrome history and which sites you visit on the web.

Privacy Set-up > Web & App Activity > Activity Controls

What is effect of Pausing Web & App Activity?

  • Pausing Web & App Activity may limit or disable more personalised experiences across Google services.
  • Pausing this setting doesn't delete any of your past data. You can see or delete your data and more at

Click on above link to take you to My Activity page and select Delete activity by as shown in screenshot below…

PC Tutor Note: As the data stored can be somewhat personal e.g searching for a suspected health condition, I suggest that that this setting is turned off and all past activity deleted. Before you do, be aware that this setting also affects what adverts you see while browsing, as they are personalised using your Web activity – see section Make ads more relevant to you

For Delete by date value above, select All time

Google Activity Control: Location History

Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you’ve been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone.

Click on this link to see your own data:

Here is a map of every place I have been to since starting using Google on my Android phone about two years ago. You can see the time of day that I was in each location and how long it took me to get to that location from my previous one.

Pausing Location History?

Turing off this setting may limit or disable personalised experiences across Google services. For example, you may not see recommendations based on places you've visited or helpful tips about your commute.

This setting does not affect other location services on your device, like Google Location Services and Find My Device.

Some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps.

Pausing this setting doesn't delete any of your past data. You can see or delete your data and more at

PC Tutor Note: Although this setting can allow location data to be stored about a persons’ daily travels, I suggest that that this setting is left ON, as it can be convenient when travelling to get location specific search results.

Google Activity Control: Device Information

The Device Information setting saves a copy of some information from your phone or tablet, including:

  • Contacts
  • Calendars
  • Apps
  • Music
  • Information about the device, like battery level

This information is private. You can only see it when you're signed in to your Google Account.

PC Tutor Note: As the data stored is key user information, I suggest that this setting is left ON

Google Activity Control: Voice and Audio

When you use voice commands (such as 'Ok Google') or touch the microphone icon, Google saves your voice and accompanying audio.

PC Tutor Note: This setting is of low importance, so it’s probably best to leave ON

Google Activity Control: Youtube Search History

This can help make future searches faster and improve recommendations in YouTube and other Google services.

PC Tutor Note: This setting is of low importance, so it’s probably best to leave ON

Google Activity Control: Youtube Watch History

This can help make your recently watched videos easier to find and improve recommendations in YouTube and other Google services.

PC Tutor Note: This setting is of low importance, so it’s probably best to leave ON

Manage what you share on YouTube

Choose who can see your YouTube videos, likes and subscriptions, and decide where you share them.

Manage your Google Photos settings

Choose whether you want to remove geolocation from your photos when you share them by link.

Help people connect with you

Let people with your phone number find and connect with you on Google services, such as video chats.

You can make it easy for people who have your phone number to get in touch with you across Google services. For example, friends can send you a message or photo without having your email address or other contact information.

If this setting is off, people might not be able to use your phone number to find your name, photo, or other information you've made visible.

Choose what Google+ profile information you share with others


Make ads more relevant to you

You can change the types of ads you see from Google when you adjust your interests, age and gender or opt-out of ads based on your interests. Please note that you will still see ads after opting out – they’ll just be less relevant.

Remember, Google makes the majority of its money by showing you ads in search results and on Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps (plus elsewhere across the internet). You're not going to turn them off here—for that, you need an ad-blocker program like Adblock Plus—all you can do here is limit how much you are targeted.

PC Tutor Note: If you are NOT using an AD Blocker as mentioned above, it is probably best to leave this setting ON. Because, if you must see adverts while browsing, it is better that they are personalised to some extent. But even with an Ad Blocker in use, it will have to be disabled for some websites to work properly. The bottom line is that viewing ads is unavoidable when browsing the internet.

Internet Privacy Protection Levels

There are 5 levels of Internet Privacy and Security which should be set-up on your home computer to maximise your protection online:

  1. Set browser standard privacy features.
  2. Install most effective privacy and security add-ons to your browser.
  3. Configure your Anti-virus and check it includes a web and email shield.
  4. Make sure you have a Firewall active at all times.

If you use your laptop computer in public WIFI areas then…

  1. Install a VPN like CyberGhost

Browser Privacy Features

The most common internet browsers enable you to manage your privacy settings such as allowing and blocking selected websites, blocking pop ups and browsing in private. All popular browsers will allow you to do this in slightly different ways, so we recommend that you visit the security and privacy section of their websites, or the help area of the browsers themselves.

See the following link to maximise Firefox Browser privacy.

See the following link to maximise Chrome Browser privacy.

Privacy and security Add-ons

Privacy Badger (Firefox & Chrome)

Privacy Badger blocks spying ads and invisible trackers. It ensures that companies can't track your browsing without your consent.

Disconnect (Firefox & Chrome)

Disconnect is an add-on that blocks web trackers from gathering your personal information. Because it blocks tracking elements from over 2,000 sources, Disconnect claims to speed up page loading by upwards of 27%.

HTTPS Everywhere (Firefox & Chrome)

HTTPS is a more secure web-browsing protocol that encrypts all of the web data that’s transmitted between the server and your browser. So even if someone intercepts your connection, they won’t be able to read the data. Even if a particular web page doesn’t support encryption, the add-on can get around it by rewriting the requests behind the scenes.

Adguard AdBlocker (Firefox & Chrome)

This top-rated extension does a nice job of removing ads, even in YouTube and other videos, without hindering browser performance. The extension offers plenty of customizable settings, plus phishing and malware protection. The developer also claims that Adguard works even on sites that use anti-ad-blocking scripts.

Stealth Mode (Chrome)

From the developer of Adguard AdBlocker, Stealth Mode gets equally high marks from reviewers. The extension blocks third-party cookies and prevents online trackers from collecting information about you.

See more at:-

Check that Anti-virus Web and Mail Shield are Switched On

Within Avast Internet Security suite, make sure that the Web and Mail Shield option on the Active Protection screen are switched ON.

Switch on Firewall

Within Windows 10, there is a firewall built in which will provide standard protection against threats. For instructions on how to turn it on, check out the link below :-

While with Avast Internet Security, the Firewall can be turned on also on the Active Protection Screen as shown above.

Note: Only one firewall can be switched on at any time so it is preferable to use the firewall included within your anti-virus suite as it would offer a higher level of security.

Definition: Firewall - A firewall allows or blocks traffic into and out of a private network or the user's computer. Firewalls may also detect outbound traffic to guard against spyware, which could be sending your surfing habits to a website.


General Internet Browsing – Ireland

Last updated on September 3rd, 2019

One of the main benefits of the internet is the availability of a vast amount of information from many sources that has accumulated over the past 20 years.  These sources include academic institutions, governments, political parties, medical institutions, support groups, private companies, interest groups, individuals and hobbyists etc

So, for someone doing research for an assignment for college or for a report in a company, they are able to access a significant amount of information which is freely available to them. Unlike in the past before the internet, when someone doing research would have had to go to a library and take notes from books.

Usually the first port of call for many people is to use a search engine like Google, Yahoo, Bing or Ask. These search engines are very well known and enable someone to easily find articles related to their chosen topic. It might also be worth noting, that these search engines are not comprehensive, so it might also be necessary to explore the search facility of each selected website. Additionally, it may be necessary to purchase online books or course to achieve a more in-depth understanding.

General websites to browse

Watch RTE TV Player
Browse a news website to get the latest news.
Book a Coach/Rail Trip
Play online Radio Stations from Ireland or abroad.
Check Youtube for Interesting videos
Use government websites to answer a query or download a form.
Renew a book in library or check catalogue in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Area. Search internet for other areas.
Check music or theatre events and book a ticket online.
Check out know-how websites to find out how to convert CD to MP3.
Book an online course to develop a leisure area of interest.

Evaluate Websites

The most important factor when evaluating web sites is your search requirements. What kind of information are you looking for? Are you using the web for entertainment, academic, career or medical information? Look carefully at the content, tone & style of the website.

Evaluate the page/content for:

1. Authority

    • Check for the source of the information: Who is the author?
    • What are his/her credentials? Does he/she provide an email or contact address/phone number?
    • Look at the domain name. Is it a preferred .ie, .com or .gov?

2. Objectivity

    • Make sure that the website is not just advertisement disguised as information.
    • Is the information unbiased and detailed with limited advertisement?

3. Currency

    • Check the date when the webpage was last updated.
    • Are there any dead links on the website?

4. Coverage

    • Is the information presented detailed, comprehensive and free?
    • Note any supplemental information, print or electronic, that is provided.

Types of Websites

When you're looking for information online, it's a good idea to be aware of what types of websites are available and what kind of information they contain. Depending on what you're looking for, you may find that certain types are more relevant to your search than others.

Type of Website Description Example
Commercial Site Most companies have websites to promote or give information about their product or services. Although these sites often have relevant information they are sometimes biased. If the site makes claim that seem to be too good to be true, see whether other sites support or refute the claims.

Organisations Organisations, like other companies, usually have websites to promote their operations and provide information to public. They are also likely to be biased in favour of their own products or services.

News Sites Many people these days pick up the main news stories online. It is also possible to subscribe to news sites to get premium content in an online version of the printed paper.

Blog Blogs are usually written by individuals who have views to express or are experts in a particular value. There are many different types of blogs such as news, hobbies, humour, photography and more. Photography Blog -

Blog Award Winners 2014

Wiki A Wiki is a site which lets users add or modify content. The quality of articles in a Wiki can vary widely, but well- written ones always provide links to sources for further reading.
Colleges and Universities These websites usually provide general information for current and prospective students about courses provided, facilities on campus and guidelines for students to follow.

Databases Databases are collections of information often from a variety of sources, which have been compiled and presented in a structured and easy-to-navigate format.
Portal Site Website that serves as a gateway or a main entry point on the internet to a specific topic-of-interest or an industry.
Forum A forum is a website where people can have discussions, known as a thread. The threads will usually stay on the site when the discussion is over and will come up in Google searches.
Question and Answer Site Similar to a forum but there is more emphasis on answering an original question maybe put forward by someone who is new to a particular topic like say photography or maybe a more technical question by someone trying to find some specific help.

See more at:

Activities – General Internet browsing

Activity 2a - Check out Entertainment Events Occurring Next Month

Search the Tickemaster or Eventbrite website and check out events that are occurring next month in your local area.

Activity 2b - Identify Training Needs and Search for Suitable Courses

Identify training needs to progress with your career or hobby and search an online course provider like for suitable online courses to do.

Browser Selection and Searching the Internet

Last updated on September 3rd, 2019

Picking a web browser isn’t like picking a computer operating system or smartphone. Unlike choosing MacOS, Windows, or Android where your choices are mutually exclusive, switching between browsers isn’t quite as perplexing.

Most people tend to choose a web browser and stick with it for years. It can be hard to break away from your favourite browser – especially when you've become used to its special features. But trying a different browser can greatly improve your experience on the web.

Whatever you are looking for in a browser, which might include: enhanced security, improved speed, or greater flexibility (through customizable options and plugins) -the right browser can have a huge effect on your home and working life.

Reasons to Select a particular Browser

When it comes to browsers comparison articles, you can’t always believe statistics, and not all surveys agree. But it’s probably fair to say that just because more people use a certain browser, that doesn't make it the ‘best'. It's just one measure, and there are others of course.

Even if a browser is better than its rivals due to better performance, security or extra features, they are all free so there’s no limit to how many you can use at the same time. So, while many would agree when we say that Google Chrome is the ‘best’ web browser, there’s nothing stopping you from using three or four different browsers for your own particular reasons.

If a specific extension or feature isn't available on your favourite browser, simply check and see if it is available in another browser. Similarly, if a website isn't displaying properly or working in one browser, try another. These are the most common reasons why we use more than one browser.

Most popular Internet browsers

Google Chrome is by far the most used browser, accounting for well over half of web traffic, followed by Safari (on Apple only) in a distant second place. IE (plus Edge) comes in third, with Firefox fourth. Opera is fifth with 5% of global web traffic.

Figure: W3Counter’s browser stats for August 2017

See more at:

Searching the Internet

Google is currently the most popular search engine, so popular that it has given rise to the verb ‘to google’. There are other search engines competing with Google as it can be very lucrative in terms of advertising revenue if they build their brand name.

From the, here are market share for Google and other popular search engines…

Desktop Search Engine Market Share – May 2015

Improving your Searches

In today's world, more and more things are done online. Even if you don't consider yourself a computer person, you now need computer skills in order to conduct research, shop online, keep in touch with family, and more.

The ability to search for information online is one of the most important information literacy skills you can possess. By improving your search skills, you can find what you're looking for more quickly, without having to sift through tons of irrelevant results.

As you gain experience with search engines, you'll be able to conduct better and better searches, which means it will become quicker and easier to find what you are looking for. Here are a few tips for improving your searches:

As you're typing your search terms, the search engine will try to guess what you're searching for and it will show a list of search suggestions. These can give you ideas for search terms that you may not have thought of.

  • Search phrases. Put quotes around a phrase so each word in the phrase isn't searched for separately. For example, if you put quotes around "diabetic biscuits", the search engine searches for that entire phrase in a webpage. But if you simply type diabetic biscuits, the search engine searches for each of the words individually where both words appear anywhere in article.
  • Exclude words. Use a hyphen (-) at the beginning of a word to exclude search results containing it. For example, macaroni -cheese. Note that there is a space before the hyphen, but not after it. In many search engines the word NOT (in all caps) is used, as in macaroni NOT cheese.
  • Use OR. You can use OR (all caps) to include either of two search words. For example, soup recipe tofu OR fish should return recipes for soup that contain tofu or fish (or both). You could also search for soup recipe tofu OR fish OR chicken OR beef.

See more at:

Popular Add-ons for Chrome and Firefox

Browser add-ons (Firefox) or extensions (Chrome) can make your browser do just about anything. But which add-ons are the most useful? Here is a selection of the best ones for improving your browsing experience.

LastPass (Firefox & Chrome) - With LastPass you can sync your passwords to your phone and all of your other devices. LastPass also makes logging into sites faster on your desktop, so it’s the ideal password management system.

PC Tutor Tip: If you use Chrome Browser, there is a Password Manager included within Google Sync which is also worth checking out.

AddBlock Plus (Firefox & Chrome) - If you’re tired of ads getting in your way this add-on blocks ads on just about any page you come across. It’ll also protect your privacy across the web, block other sections you want to hide (like YouTube comments), and even block malware.

Gmail Offline (Chrome) This add-on caches Gmail messages locally, like a traditional email desktop app, allowing you to read and reply to messages without an active connection. Saved replies are then sent the next time a connection is available.

Research and Bookmarking Add-ons

If you’re using the web for research, you may need to compile your results as easily as possible and note a few sites for future reference. Here are tools for saving those relevant bits of information, and for compiling and managing your bookmarks.

Evernote Web Clipper (Firefox & Chrome) – Evernote is a fantastic note and article organiser and the best way to send internet articles to Evernote is by using the Web Clipper. A user simply clicks on the Evernote Web Clipper Icon on the toolbar and it shows a dropdown list of options which allows you to select which Evernote Folder you want to save the article in.

Bookmark Manager (Chrome) - This is the easiest way to organize your bookmarks and folders without skipping around multiple menus or bars. The Bookmarks Manager lets you order your bookmarks, make and organize folders, rename or edit bookmarks, and search all of your links.

FreshStart – Cross Browser Session Manager (Chrome) – This add-on saves your favourite tab sessions for easy loading and keeps note of what tabs you had open on another computer.

Search Plus (Chrome) This add-on helps to find the tabs you're looking for from all opened tabs regardless of window. You can also manage the found tabs easily and quickly.

Weava Highlighter (Chrome) This add-on makes it possible to highlight, annotate, and bookmark online research with multiple colours and organize the results into collections.

NoSquint Plus (Firefox & Chrome) - if the combination of the colour and font size on a website is wrong, reading a page might strain your eyes or it may turn out to be unreadable. NoSquint Plus can fix this by letting you set global or site-specific zoom levels, and change foreground and background colours.

Mercury Reader (Chrome) This tool does a great job of stripping a webpage down to basic text and images, so you can focus more easily on the content. To customise the page, tap on the extension’s settings button where you can adjust text size, typography and theme.

See more at:

Activity 1b - Set-up a Browsing Session for Buying a Laptop

  1. Install the Tab Manager add-on within the Firefox browser or Freshstart extension within Chrome browser.
  2. Set-up browsing tabs to the following computer websites…

Regular Stores

Online Stores

  1. Browse the above websites and select a computer with the following typical home user specifications:

Brand: Lenovo, HP or Dell
Screen: 15.6" Matte
Processor: Intel Core i3 or i5
OS: Windows 10 Home Edition
Hard Disk: 1-3 TB
Price: within your budget – expect to pay about €500-€700

  1. Clip the laptop product details for matching laptops into Evernote Notebook - ‘Laptop Buying Research - 2016’.
  2. Shortlist your selected Laptops into your top three.
  3. Make final decision on which one to buy.
  4. Save browsing session for future use.

--- End of Activity ---