Viruses and spyware can unleash a host of evils upon your PC, ranging from annoying pop-ups to a zombie system takeover. We suggests a layered approach to safeguarding your computer.
Lock It Down: Go to the security section of your Control Panel and enable the firewall before your PC ever touches the Internet. Then install a virus protection program and set it to download virus signatures every week.
Clean It Up: Once a week, do a full virus scan with a program like Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus (symantec.com), McAfee VirusScan (mcafee.com) or AVG Anti-Virus (free.grisoft.com). Pironti also says you should run a free spyware checker, such as SpyBot-S&D (safer-networking.org) or CCleaner (ccleaner.com).
Vaccinate your Flash Drives: Flash drives often used on different computers, are the primary source of virus infections on home PCs. But of course, you can’t stop using a flash drive for that reason. The solution is a digital vaccine.
Panda offers a USB vaccine that disables Autorun — a feature of Windows that is exploited by cyber scammers — and stops viruses. The tool is simple to use: Download it, plug in a flash drive and then select USB Drive Vaccination. This will make the flash drive immune to viruses unless you format it again. At the same time, clicking on ‘Vaccinate the computer’ will disable Autorun on the machine and make it more resistant to viruses that use USB drives to spread.
Be Careful Of Your Passwords: Using numbers, symbols and mixed-case letters in your password increases the difficulty of guessing or cracking your password. For example, there are more than 6 quadrillion possible variations for an eight-character password with numbers, symbols, and mixed-case letters — 30,000 times more variations than an eight-character password with only lowercase letters.