1. Why aren’t you using Firefox yet? Firefox is an internet browser that is being independently developed and is far superior to Internet Explorer in many aspects. But most importantly, it isn’t a target for hackers and spyware, and most of those nasty security exploits can be circumvented by simply not using Internet Explorer. Get Firefox and surf safe!
2. Keep up on Windows Updates. This is critical as another patch usually comes out every week, sometimes several in a single week. And most of these patches are necessary to plug holes and exploits within Windows that makes it easier for hackers to infect your system with viruses and spyware. Keep up to date by turning on automatic updates.
3. Keep your virus definitions up to date! What’s the good of having a virus detection software if it can’t scan for the latest threats? It differs from software to software, but if you’ve kept up on your Window’s updates, you’ll notice that service pack 2 now has a virus protection monitor that keeps tabs on your virus software to make sure it’s up to date.
4. Invest in spyware protection software. It’s no longer a matter of just staying off those websites with questionable content, spyware comes from the most unsuspecting of sites these days to help the host recover costs. And unfortunately, redundant spyware software is the recommended way to catch it all. But if you’re going to buy just one, I recommend Webroot’s SpySweeper (~$30) and Microsoft’s Antispyware software (recently acquired from Giant, one of the best).
5. Tired of spam? Be careful when you sign up for anything online. Are you sure they need your email? Make one up if they don’t 😉 Also, if your email is published on a website, plan on it being harvested by bots for use in spam. If you’re getting hit with hundreds of spams a week, you need a new email address and/or some strong spam software.
6. Does your computer feel slow even though you’ve scanned it for spyware and viruses? Windows XP is a huge application and I now recommend at least 384mb of RAM and 512mb is recommended. Also, is your hard drive full? Make sure you have at least 500mb available on the hard drive at all times.
That’s all for now, but as I think of more, I’ll add to the list.