Keeping your Anti-Virus software and Operating System updated is one of the most important steps you can take to help protect your computer from becoming infected. Updates address many issues, but the most important issue is security. Updates ensure that your computer software has the latest information possible. They address programming defects or holes that hackers, spyware and viruses use to access your system and steal important and personal information such as banking information, pin numbers and passwords.
Keep your fire wall on! A fire wall is software or hardware that either blocks or allows a remote computer or program from connecting to your computer and allowing it to send or receive data. Hackers often use these open ports to connect to your computer. Even if you think there is nothing on your computer that would interest anyone, someone could use your computer to spread worms or viruses to other computers without your knowledge. Check your fire wall settings often and block all ports and programs that are not necessary such as gaming sites, media sharing and social networking sites.
Never click on any links or attachments unless you are certain you know who and where it came from. Before opening mail, look at the senders address to see if it really came from that user. Don't be a sucker, avoid scams and hoaxes. The only thing you will get free from opening strange mail is a virus. "Phishing" Is usually in the form of an e-mail that tries to get you to log onto a fake website. Phishers pretend to be a legitimate company you currently doing business with or have in the past. They have a goal of getting your user name and password, or even your real account information and other info they need to steal your identity and/or money.
Instant messengers can transfer worms and other malware. Instant messengers can also provide an access point for back door Trojan horses. Hackers can use instant messaging to gain back door access to computers by bypassing desktop fire wall implementations. All the major instant messaging networks support peer-to-peer file sharing where one can share a directory or drive. This means that all the files on your computer can be shared using the instant messaging client, leading to the spread of files that are infected with a virus or other malware.
Tool bars often open ports on your computer that enable programs and other computers unrestricted access to your computer. There is absolutely no need for more than one tool bar. Your browsers tool bar normally allows you to add all your favorite items such as favorites, bookmarks, miscellaneous shortcuts and gadgets to it. I recommend deleting any unnecessary and unused tool bars and closing the open ports they left open in your fire wall. All of your programs will work just fine without half of your screen covered with tool bars.