Use security software
- To keep your computer safe, and protect it against viruses and spyware, the most important thing you can do is install and maintain security software. Security software performs two main functions-- scanning for and removing viruses and spyware in files, and monitoring the operation of your computer for virus-like activity. Most software can perform both of these tasks. Keep your anti-virus software up to date.
- Use a secure, supported operating system. Frequently update your software by applying the latest service packs and patches. For Windows, you can schedule Automatic Updates to automatically download and install available updates.
- Always choose strong passwords and passphrases, and keep them private. Never share your passwords or passphrases with anyone, even friends, family, or computer support personnel.
- Do not download unfamiliar software off the Internet. Some will have useful functions, but most of this software contains spyware, which will damage your operating system installation, waste resources, and send your personal information back to the company that provides the software.
- Do not click on random links: If you can't verify the link, don't click it. To avoid viruses spread through your email or instant messaging (IM), think twice before clicking on a link.
- Beware of email or attachments from unknown people, or with a strange subject line. If someone you know sends you an attachment, contact the sender before opening the attachment to verify they sent it.
- Frequently back up important files and documents. Your data will be protected if you experience an operating system crash, hardware failure, or virus attack. Save files in multiple places (online backup system, USB flash drive, CD-R).