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Safety FAQs

Do I need to do Windows Updates?

Given the effort being put in by malicious Internet users to discover security flaws in all operating systems, Windows and otherwise, which can then be exploited for their own purposes, it's highly recommended to take advantage of the free Windows Updates offered by Microsoft, to help keep your PC safe.

Are email attachments dangerous?

The most common security threat is viruses hiding in email attachments. The best way to combat this threat is to:

  • Install antivirus software and make sure that you always scan attachments before double clicking.
  • Never open an executable (.exe) file retrieved or received online unless you are expecting it from a trusted source.
  • It's also a good idea to trash any attachment from an unknown sender.
  • If you use Outlook Express, you should turn off the mail preview feature. This feature automatically opens mail for you, and could also launch a hidden virus.

Are passwords important?

Use a good password - don't use "password" and don't use your username.

Choose a password that:

  • You can't find in an unabridged dictionary
  • Isn't in your phone book
  • Uses a combination of characters, numbers, and symbols

You should change your password regularly and most importantly, never give your password to strangers.

Are there Internet sites I should be careful of?

Don't download pirated software Freely available "warez" software applications can carry Trojan horses or virus codes.

Trojan-horse style programs like BackOrifice or NetBus, which can give anyone complete access to your hard drive are sometimes included in pirate software. So don't install screen savers or games from unknown sources.

Anti Virus FAQ

What is a Virus?

A virus is a manmade program or piece of code that causes an unexpected, usually negative, event. Viruses are often disguised in games or images, and email attachments. They often have clever, deceitful titles, such as "Instant Cash", or "Reduce your Mortgage".

What is a Worm?

Computer Worms are viruses that reside in the active memory of a computer and duplicate themselves. They may send copies of themselves to other computers, such as through email or Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

What is a Trojan Horse?

A Trojan horse program is a malicious program that pretends to be a benign application; a Trojan horse program purposefully does something the user does not expect. Trojans are not viruses since they do not replicate, but Trojan horse programs can be just as destructive.

How can I stop Viruses?

If you use the Internet, it's extremely important to have up-to-date Anti-Virus software installed on your PC. Generally, if you do a weekly update you should stay safe, or if possible, use Anti-Virus software, which has an auto-updating feature, which looks for updates whenever you're on the net. Never open any email attachments from people you don't know, or trust.

Firewall FAQ

What is a firewall?

A firewall is a system that is designed to prevent unauthorised access to private computers or networks. Firewalls can be implemented in hardware, or software. All data entering or leaving the computer must pass through the firewall. The purpose of the firewall is to allow the data you want to get through, like the web sites you're looking at, or your email or the network games you are playing, while keeping hackers out.

Do I need a firewall?

Firewalls protect your PC against unauthorised access from the Internet. The longer you spend on the Internet, the more likely an attack will be. It's better to be sure than sorry. You need to have good locks on your house to keep intruders out, similarly, it makes good sense to have a firewall protecting your PC.

How does a firewall work?

In simple terms, we could say that a firewall is used to control traffic between your computer (or LAN) and the Internet. More accurately, a firewall is a way of enforcing a policy or set of rules governing the flow of data to and from the outside world.

Firewalls that are used to protect home computers are usually based on packet filtering, ie. data packets are admitted or rejected according to the way the rules are configured. While these rules can be quite complex, for the typical home user their primary function will be to block uninvited incoming connections. Most firewalling tools for end users will come with a sensible set of rules by default.

Does NAT act as a firewall?

Network Address Translation, as used by just about every Home/Small Business router to allow Internet access by more than one PC, provides some security, as your computer has a Private IP address, rather than a Public (Internet) IP address. This means that your computer usually cannot be accessed from the Internet unless a connection is opened from inside the Private network.

How do I know if my firewall is working?

As with any security system, it should periodically be tested. Internet sites such as Gibson Research Corporation ( or HackerWatch ( provide free online firewall testing. If these methods don't suit you, consult an Industry Professional.

Do firewalls stop viruses, adware & spyware?

No, firewalls do not stop viruses. You need appropriate software applications to protect your PC.

Are firewalls hard to set up?

Not always. Most Home User/Small Business type firewalls are very simple to set up as they already have a comprehensive set of rules built in, and require very minimal configuring.

What is a DoS, and will a firewall protect me from one?

A Denial of Service attack is a flood of information which swamps Internet equipment and slows traffic down drastically. A firewall can protect you from the DoS traffic.

Spyware & Adware FAQ

What is Adware?

Adware, also known as an Adbot, can do a number of things from profile your online surfing and spending habits to popping up annoying ad windows as you surf. In some cases Adware has been bundled with other software (i.e. peer-to-peer file swapping products) without the user's knowledge or slipped in the fine print of an EULA (End User License Agreement).

Is Adware Dangerous?

Not all Adware is bad, but often users are annoyed by adware's intrusive behaviour. Keep in mind that by removing Adware sometimes the program it came bundled with for free may stop functioning. Some Adware, may not perform any activity other then to profile a user's surfing activity for study by Marketing companies.

Adware can be obnoxious in that it performs "drive-by downloads". Drive-by downloads are accomplished by providing a misleading dialogue box or other methods of stealth installation. Many times users have no idea they have installed the application. Often Adware makers make their application very difficult to uninstall.

What is a "EULA"?

A "EULA" is an End User License Agreement. You accept the agreement when you click "OK" or "Continue" when you are installing software.

Many users never bother to read the EULA. It is imperative to actually read this agreement before you install any software. No matter how tedious the EULA, you should be able to find out the intent BEFORE you install the software. If in doubt, DO NOT agree to the EULA.

What is Spyware?

Spyware, also known as Malware, is potentially far more dangerous threat than Adware because it can record your keystrokes, history, passwords, and other confidential and private information.

Spyware is often sold as a spouse monitor, child monitor, a surveillance tool or simply as a tool to spy on users to gain unauthorised access. Spyware is also known as snoopware, PC surveillance, key logger, system recorders, Parental control software, PC recorder, Detective software and Internet monitoring software.

What does Spyware do?

Spyware covertly gathers user information and activity without the user's knowledge. Spy software can record your keystrokes as you type them, passwords, credit card numbers, sensitive information, where you surf, chat logs, and can even take random screenshots of your activity. Basically whatever you do on the computer is completely viewable by the spy. You do not have to be connected to the Internet to be spied upon.

The latest permutations of Spyware include the use of routines to mail out user activity via e-mail or posting information to the web where the spy can view it at their leisure. Also many spyware vendors use "stealth routines" and "polymorphic" (meaning to change) techniques to avoid detection and removal by popular anti-spy software. In some cases spyware, known as a retrospy, will counter-attack anti-spy packages by attempting to disable the program. In addition they may use routines to re-install the spyware application after it has been detected.

How do I Stop Spyware?

There are many Spyware stopping software packages available. Do some research to establish which one best suits your needs, or consult an Industry Professional.

Windows Solutions

How do I prevent unwanted software Installs?

Spyware is often acquired through "drive-by" software installs in Internet Explorer. IE supports a technology called "ActiveX", which allows website creators to embed small programs in their sites (called "ActiveX controls"), which can then call to larger programs (such as software installers).

Theoretically, there are safeguards to prevent unauthorised code from being run on your machine when you visit a website; you should normally see a dialog box asking you if you want to install and run a given ActiveX control. When this technology is used correctly, it lets you install software like Macromedia Flash or Apple Quicktime & Anti-Virus software updates from a website without having to download a separate installer. It's also the technology that drives Windows Update.

Never agree to install software you don't immediately recognise as being from a safe source. When prompted to do so by the dialog box, do not click "yes" or "no", always click the "X" at the very top right corner of the dialog box to dismiss it.

Content Filtering FAQ

What are the Government's online content regulations?

Online content regulations, which commenced on 1 January 2000, place certain obligations on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Internet Content Hosts (ICHs). They also require industry codes of practice.

How do the regulations work?

Any Australian may complain to the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) about illegal or offensive Internet content at the ACMA website. The ACMA investigates complaints to assess whether the content is 'prohibited' as defined in Schedule 5 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (see below 'What material can I post online?').

There are two parts to the regulations. The first is that ICHs in Australia must remove content that has been found by the ACMA complaints mechanism to be prohibited Internet content. When an ICH receives a notice from the ACMA to remove content it must do so by 6.00 PM on the next working day. There are heavy penalties for non-compliance.

The second is that ISPs must provide the end users with access to both tools and information about the ways they can take greater control over the content which is accessible in their homes. Under the registered industry codes of practice, ISPs must provide - at no more than cost price - a filter for the use of their subscribers. The ACMA notifies prohibited overseas-hosted content to the filter makers listed in the codes so that the filters are updated to block access to the content.

Internet users are encouraged to use one of the filtering tools listed in the industry codes. More information about the codes and filters can be found at the Internet Industry Association's website.

What do ISPs and ICHs have to do?

Under the legislation and the codes of practice, ISPs and ICHs must:

  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that Internet access accounts are not provided to children under 18 without parental consent or the consent of a responsible adult
  • Provide for use filtering software which can be installed on the home computer or provide an optional filtered service available direct from the ISP
  • Provide end users with information about their rights and responsibilities online

How can I get approved filter software products or services?

The Internet Industry Association has a list of Internet Content Filters which they have approved, some of which are listed below.

What material can I post on the Internet?

Australian Internet users should be aware that placing certain content on the Internet may give rise to criminal or civil liability under applicable State, Territory or Commonwealth law.

The following categories of Internet content are prohibited for hosting on servers within Australia:

  • Content which is (or would be) classified RC or X by the Classification Board.

    Such content includes:
    • Material containing detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use
    • Child pornography
    • Bestiality
    • excessively violent of sexually violent material
    • Real depictions of actual sexual activity
  • Content hosted in Australia which is classified R and not subject to a restricted access system which complies with criteria determined by the ACMA.

    Content classified R is not considered suitable for minors and includes:
    • Material containing excessive and/or strong violence and sexual violence
    • Material containing implied or simulated sexual activity
    • Material which deals with issues or contains depictions which require an adult perspective
More information on these classification categories can be obtained from the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Cookie FAQ

What are Cookies?

A cookie is a small piece of information that is sent to your browser - along with an HTML page - when you visit a particular Web site. Some Web sites use cookies to track repeat visits of individuals (in other words, to monitor Web site usage). Other sites use cookies to identify users so they don't have to log in every time they visit the site. The benefit of cookies is that they can be used to personalise content to meet the needs of specific users. Almost all commercial web sites use Cookies.

When the cookie arrives, your browser saves it to your hard drive. When you return to that site, some of the information stored in the cookie will be sent back to the Web server, along with your new request. The cookie can contain information such as a username and password for that site, items you are purchasing on a shopping site, or the URLs of the pages you have looked at.

How does Optus Internet Use Cookies?

To allow you to personalise your Optus Internet service we save a User ID for you in a cookie, which resides on your machine. If your browser does not support cookies, or you have cookies turned off, you will not be able to access the full Personalisation functionality.

We recommend that you update your browser to a more recent version, which by default, should accept cookies, to enjoy the full capabilities of Personalisation.

Can I set my browser to reject cookies?

Yes. Internet Explorer 6.0 provides Privacy settings that specify how your computer deals with cookies. To customise your privacy and cookie settings with Internet Explorer 6.0 go to the "Tools" menu, click Internet Options. Click the "Privacy" tab.

You can move the Privacy settings higher or lower depending on your preference.

NOTE: You must have the Privacy settings at medium (the default) or lower to effectively use the Optus website and Account Management features.

When you change your privacy settings, the changes might not affect cookies that are already on your computer. If you want to ensure that all of the cookies on your computer meet your privacy settings, you should delete all of the existing cookies on your computer. When you return to Web sites that previously had saved cookies on your computer, the Web sites that meet your privacy settings will save cookies on your computer again. The Web sites that do not meet your privacy settings will not be allowed to save cookies on your computer, and might not function properly.

Can cookies read information from my hard drive?

No. Cookies can only store data that is provided by the server or generated by an explicit user action.

Where are cookies stored?

Cookie data is stored on the user's hard drive (although, during actual communication, it is stored in memory). The file name is different for each platform. Internet Explorer cookies are in C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\. Each cookie is in a separate file starting with Cookie:username.

Can cookies fill up my hard drive?

No. Microsoft IE has measures in place to limit the number of cookies that can be saved on your hard drive at one time. If you exceed this, your least-used cookies are discarded to make room for the new ones. IE saves cookies into the "Temporary Internet Files" folder, a system folder that you can set the maximum size of. (The default is 2% of your hard drive).

Can programmers save customer information without cookies?

Yes. Customer information can be stored in several ways. For example, server administrators and programmers can create a database application that tracks and stores data they otherwise would have managed with cookies. Cookies are simply a programming convenience.

Can malicious sites read cookie information used by another site?

Cookies are designed to be read only by the site that provides them, not by other sites.

Can cookies be encrypted?

Yes. Programmers can require that cookies be delivered and received only in the context of a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) session. The SSL session handles the actual encryption of cookie data.

Are cookies a threat to my privacy?

A cookie alone cannot read your hard drive to find out who you are, where you live, or what your income is. The only way that this kind of information could end up in a cookie is if YOU provide it to a site and that site saves it to a cookie.

Can I delete cookies?

Yes - your cookies are saved to a simple text file that you can delete as you please. In order to do this properly, you must first close your browser. If you delete the file with your browser open, it will make a new file when you close it, and your cookies will be back.

NOTE: Deleting the entire contents of your cookie file will cause you to "start from scratch" with every web site you usually visit. So, it may be preferable to go to the cookies folder of Internet Explorer and delete the files from servers you don't want.

Options - Advanced menu (IE). This means you will be alerted as each cookie comes in, and click OK to accept it, or Cancel to reject it.

NOTE: You must have your browser configured to accept cookies in order to see the personalised myZOO content.