Wthout a little love from you, your computer is susceptible to becoming a zombie spam machine without you even knowing it. It could already be hacked and recording your passwords. That wouldn't be a big deal if you didn't connect to all your critical financial and personal services from it. Follow these basic steps to secure your computer and protect yourself from the most common problems that can make your life difficult.
The latest versions of your OS have security fixes and higher default security settings. So it is very important that you are running the latest OS with all the latest updates installed. New versions of Mac OS are cheap and very easy to install. If you are on windows and using an OS less than Windows 7, then buy an upgrade knowing that the price it costs is nothing compared to the frustration of having your computer software damaged. Also, I am very uncomfortable with the next version of windows "metro". I believe that windows 7 will be the most popular version of windows for the next few years so it is a very good time to upgrade if you have not done so yet.
Make sure your administrator is using a unique secure non-dictionary password. If you login to a user with "administrator" access, create a new standard user for your daily activities. You do not want to be using an admin account for your daily use because this grants sneaky software more access than it should when it is triggered from your account by tricking you to install it.
If you are connected directly to your modem, buy a router. They come standard with a hardware firewall which will give you additional protection to incoming attacks. Make sure your router is not using the default password as you set it up. Also, make sure wireless internet from your router is secured with a password. Don't leave it open because you don't care of other people use your internet. This gives other people direct access to your computer and also allows them to view your internet traffic.
A firewall is like locking the front door to your house--it helps keep intruders (in this case, hackers and malicious software) from getting in. Windows default firewall is a good start and effectively blocks incoming threats. What Comodo Firewall Free offers over Windows 7's Firewall is that it tracks outbound requests as well as inbound. This means that it also detects unauthorized programs that are trying to phone home. Install Comodo Firewall free to benefit from more comprehensive and proactive system protection. Note that when you use programs for the first time, Comodo will alert you and ask you to confirm. This won't happen again and is necessary so that you know when a program is running you don't want. Once installed, here are some recommended settings: Firewall: Safe Mode General Settings Create Rules for safe applications Enable IPv6 filtering Alert Settings Low All boxes checked Advanced All boxes checked except for Monitor NDIS protocols other than TCP/IP Comodo firewall also comes with Defense+ which takes unknown files and sandboxes them. This limits what these files are able to do based on which sandboxing scheme you decide on. Recommended Settings: Defense+: Safe Mode General Settings Checked: Create rules for safe applications Execution Control Settings Enabled Everything checked Treat unrecognized files as Restricted Sandbox Settings Enabled All boxes checked Monitoring Settings All boxes checked For further info on setting up a maximum strength firewall: http://help.comodo.com/topic-72-1-206-2817-setting-up-the-firewall-for-maximum-security-and-usability.html
After time, unused software begins to build up on the system. For maximum security, it is important to remove unused programs that may be running in the background with security holes. At the same time, make sure all software you do want to keep is at the latest version. Especially windows update and office update.
Browsing the internet is the easiest way to acquire computer bugs. Follow these steps to ensure your browsing is as secure as possible.
Spyware can slow down your computer and invade your privacy. Follow these steps to make sure your computer is resistant to this common annoyance.
Rootkits are little programs that give other people admin access to your computer. Follow these steps to scan for them and remove them if they exist.
Here are the steps you take if you have a virus. It is important to be prepared since your computer may not be fully useable once infected. Get these programs ready. You may also want to run them once if you have ever had a virus infection in the past you were not sure was cleaned up completely.
An anti-virus program is required to secure your computer against viruses, spyware, worms, and trojans. AVG is the currently recommended version due to the additional email protection it gives you. Recommended Settings: Options > Advanced Settings > Email Protection > Email Scanner > Certification -- Disable certify incoming and outgoing. It is annoying for you and others. Note: Avast! is a highly recommended alternative if you so choose, http://www.avast.com/en-us/index. I didn't put it here because one of the rootkit scanners uses the Avast database during its one time scans and if you do that regularly, this setup should give you maximum coverage.