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TalkTalk HomeSafe

The TalkTalk Network

As an internet provider, we receive billions of requests every day from our customers to connect to all sorts of websites. Some of the websites contain viruses or deliberately malicious code, which can be used to steal our customers information or damage their computer. Often, the website owners are unaware that malicious code or viruses are on their site.

We want to help our customers and their devices (PCs, Macs, games consoles, set top boxes etc.) avoid being compromised by these threats, so we've designed and built a new security product called HomeSafe. It gives our customers greater protection and control over their web browsing experience. As it's brand new, we want our customers to start using it and tell us what they think.

Virus Alerts

By switching on Virus Alerts, every computer or device connected to the internet through the TalkTalk network can be better protected. This is thanks to the warning system it includes - if you try to access a website infected with a virus when using the service, you'll receive a warning, advising you not to.

How does the Virus Alerts process work?

The Virus Alerts process starts when customers search for a website URL (the www. address for the site you want to visit).

  • If the URL hasn't been checked that day, the Virus Alerts system scans it for harmful content before you open it (the Virus Alerts system doesn't record who is searching for the page or any personal information).
  • Following the website detection and analysis, the website URL is placed in a white list (i.e. the scan is clean - retained for up to 24 hours and then automatically deleted) or a black list (i.e. the scan shows viruses, spyware or other irregularities - this is kept until the website has been clean for 7 days and then is automatically deleted).
  • The network processes billions of routing requests a day, so these lists are recorded in temporary memory. The system is subject to the same high level of security already applicable to the TalkTalk network and TalkTalk's customer data.
  • Virus Alerts does not record or scan any secure "https" website URLs.

These lists will be used to alert our customers to websites suspected to be infected with viruses or other nasty surprises, depending on whether they have chosen to receive such alerts. Customers who have not chosen to receive Virus Alerts will continue to browse as they do today without any alerting when they visit potentially harmful websites.

Homework Time and Kids Safe

The two other exciting new features of HomeSafe are Kids Safe and Homework Time.

  • Kids Safe protects your kids from seeing inappropriate websites. It enables you to block specific types of website at all times, and you can also specify individual sites of your own to block.
  • Homework Time gives you the option to block sites which commonly distract your children during homework time. Just set a time period either Monday to Friday or 7 days a week.

HomeSafe is available to all TalkTalk customers and all the features are switched off by default. To switch them on and set up Virus Alerts, Kids Safe and Homework Time log in to your TalkTalk MyAccount. To switch them on and set up Virus Alerts, Kids Safe and Homework Time log in to your TalkTalk MyAccount.

 

TalkTalk Virus Alerts: Frequently asked questions:

  1. Why is TalkTalk providing security in its own network?

    Because we don't believe enough is being done to protect internet users from online nasties including spammers, fraudsters and viruses, we've developed a range of features to give you extra protection.

    Thanks to these measures, the risk of losing personal information such as your address, phone numbers, passwords and bank details is greatly reduced.

    Plus, with Kids Safe and Homework Time, you've got the option to control the sites your children access.

  2. How does network-based security differ to standard PC/Mac installed security software?

    Not only is existing PC/Mac security software tricky to install, it only provides protection for one computer at a time. However, HomeSafe provides protection for all the electronic devices connected to your TalkTalk Home Broadband - like games consoles and smartphones. It's quick and easy to set up, with no software to install, and doesn't slow your computers or devices down.

  3. Which risks does TalkTalk's Virus Alerts warn me about and block?

    Our Virus Alerts help protect you from visiting harmful websites.. If you try to access a site we think could be harmful, you will see a warning page, advising you not to open it.

  4. So TalkTalk will scan all the websites I visit? Can you explain why, how, and who does this?

    Because the internet is changing all the time, no single person has a list of all the websites available in the world. So, to provide effective online protection, we constantly scan the internet to identify infected web pages. To do this, we need to know which webpages exist and are being visited. So, as you browse the internet, the webpage addresses you visit get stripped of personal information, and any pages that haven't been scanned that day are checked for malware (harmful content). This is done automatically by high-security scanning systems in the TalkTalk network.

  5. Are the regulatory authorities aware of this product?

    Yes, we've shared all the details of HomeSafe with the Information Commissioner's Office. We're happy to provide similar information to any other regulatory authority who requests it.

  6. Are there any personal security or privacy risks attached to this monitoring?

    No. None of this information is personalised or stored. The network processes billions of requests a day, so these lists are recorded in temporary memory.

  7. Will only the customers who sign up to Virus Alerts have the websites they visit scanned?

    Virus Alerts scans all the websites you visit and is completely anonymous. You just need to opt-in to Virus Alerts if you want warnings to pop up while you browse. If you activate Virus Alerts, you can switch it off at any time afterwards.

  8. Do you keep a record of all the websites everyone who uses my internet connection visit?

    No, we don't keep records of your internet browsing history.

  9. How long is information on the websites I visit kept for?

    If any of our customers has visited the webpage you are visiting already that day, the information is deleted within seconds. Otherwise, we immediately scan it to check it's clean. If it's safe, we add it to our whitelist (safe website list) for the rest of the day. If it looks like it poses a security risk, we'll place it on our blacklist (unsafe website list) to monitor it for at least 7 days.

  10. What happens to the information on the websites I visit?

    It's permanently deleted - i.e. the whitelist is permanently deleted every 24 hours.

  11. Will I know if I catch a computer virus? What are the symptoms?

    Unless you have effective protection, you may never know if your computer has a virus. Some viruses silently gather and send information back to the person who designed them. Others are easier to spot as they will crash your computer or simply slow it down. Virus Alerts warns you not to visit websites known to have viruses, giving you the chance to avoid them.

  12. How easy are viruses to detect and remove using paid-for/ free Anti-virus software?

    This depends how complex the virus is and whether the anti virus software spots it before or after it's started to operate. If the anti-virus software recognises the threat before it's downloaded or opened, it is quickly and easily deleted.

    Free anti-virus software isn't usually as up-to-date as paid-for software. If your freeware (free security) only updates once a week, you could be attacked by a virus which the paid-for software would have spotted and removed much sooner. Normally, with paid-for software, technical support is available if you need any help.

  13. How do network-based Virus Alerts differ from Anti-Virus software?

    Network based Virus Alerts warn you about risky web pages before you open them - they work on PCs, Macs and any other devices connected to your TalkTalk Home Broadband - this includes devices your guests have when they visit you. Anti-Virus software protects computers from other sources of infection and removes malware (harmful web content).

  14. Will Virus Alerts replace the need for Anti-Virus software?

    No, they complement each other. Virus Alerts extends protection to devices unable to use traditional Anti-Virus software as they access websites. i.e. smartphones or games consoles.

  15. What do I need to do to maintain up-to-date protection using Network Based Virus Alerts?

    You don't have to do anything; we keep everything updated for you. Once your Virus Alerts are on, you'll see a warning before you visit a known suspect website.

  16. Will Virus Alerts prevent 100% of viruses infecting my PC?

    Unfortunately no security service can guarantee this, because it takes a while to spot new infections. As soon as we find and recognise them, you will be protected.

  17. How will I know if Virus Alerts has detected malware on a website I have requested?

    You will see the TalkTalk warning page and instructions on what options you have.

  18. Can I visit a website if I've been warned not to?

    Yes, and you'll see the option to turn Virus Alerts off. If you change your mind, you can turn them back on again whenever you like in one simple click.

  19. If I visit a website I was warned about and I catch a virus, will Virus Alerts remove it for me?

    No, however our free online scanner and virus removal tool might be able to do it for you. Get it here: http://www.f-secure.com/en_EMEA-Labs/security-threats/tools/online-scanner

  20. Do you scan every website every time someone visits it?

    We scan every website at least one of our customers visits, every day.

TalkTalk Kids Safe and Homework Time: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What do Network-based Kids Safe and Homework Time provide protection against?

    Kids Safe lets you block websites you think are unsafe or unsuitable for your children or teenagers.

    Homework Time lets you set a time during the day to block your children from accessing social networking and game websites, either 7 days a week or Monday to Friday.

  2. My children are different ages; can I have separate settings for different ages?

    The advantage of these products is that they protect every computer or device in the whole home. As you can change the settings whenever you choose, you should still be able to find the right balance of protection for everyone in your family.

  3. What categories are blocked by default?

    None, the default setting is off, i.e. no blocking.

  4. What do I do to authorise or block a website my child visits?

    Register your TalkTalk My Account at myaccount.talktalk.co.uk

    Log into My Account, and select HomeSafe. This will lead you to the Kids Safe and Homework Times settings. Click these and follow the instructions to set up your blocking profile. You can return to My Account to change these setting whenever you like.

  5. How often do you review the websites in each category?

    New websites are categorised daily.

  6. If I find a website I think should be added to a blocked category, will you add it?

    If our panel of online experts agree with you, we will. To suggest a site you'd like us to block, log in to My Account and select the 'Give Feedback' option in the HomeSafe area.

  7. Does Kids Safe prevent, or warn children or parents against Cyber-bullying, Cyber-grooming or any other form of Cyber-abuse?

    No, Kids Safe only filters websites rather than messages from individuals. For more advice on Cyber bullying and keeping your children safe online, visit our Online Safety Centre: http://www.talktalk.co.uk/selfhelp/safety-and-security/

  8. Can I add websites I think are inappropriate to the Kids Safe Block list for my household/child?

    Yes, you can add up to nine websites to your own custom-made list.

  9. What will my child see when they attempt to access a site that is categorised as inappropriate or blocked by Homework Time?

    They will see a TalkTalk blocking page and will not be able to visit the site they want to.

  10. What options does my child have when they see a blocking page?

    They can either go back to the previous page, or ask you to change the blocking settings.

  11. Will I be told that my child has attempted to access a blocked website?

    No. However they won't be able to progress without your permission.

  12. Can Kids Safe or Homework Time be switched off temporarily, or permanently?

    Yes. You can switch if off by visiting My Account.

  13. Will Kids Safe or Homework Time work with other (non PC) devices such as Wii, Xbox, Live chat or iPlayer?

    Yes, browsing will be filtered if you're using any of these via your TalkTalk Home broadband.

  14. Does Kids Safe prevent, detect or clean viruses on my PC?

    No. Kids Safe blocks websites, it doesn't spot viruses on them. Virus Alerts can help block you from picking up viruses online. To prevent, detect or clean viruses for up to 3 computers, you can add our Super Safe Boost.

  15. Do Kids Safe and Homework Time prevent 100% of inappropriate websites from being accessed by my children?

    Unfortunately no system is 100% failsafe, but Kids Safe and Homework Time will help protect your family from inappropriate websites.

  16. Will Kids Safe stop websites I block from appearing in Search Engines? E.g. If I block Pornography, will my children still be able to search for and find sexual-related links/images in Google?

    Kids Safe simply blocks the categories of webpages themselves - it doesn't block references to all the pages on the internet. However, some search engines offer their own filtering controls.

  17. 17. Will HomeSafe block applications I have installed on my phone or computer?

    The current HomeSafe product is designed to block access to websites. We are not currently able to block application data from being sent and received. We are exploring what other security features we can add to HomeSafe in future.

  18. 18. I browse the internet via a VPN or a browser which holds its own cache of websites: will HomeSafe block these sites?

    HomeSafe can only block web addresses which are looked up via the TalkTalk network (those which you type into a standard browser). If you use our network to access a web proxy or VPN we cannot control what content is passed back to you by that proxy or VPN.