1. Ensure your Operating System is up to date and safely configured
Ø Windows 2000, XP or ME can be set to download security updates automatically and prompt you for permission to install them. http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/
Ø Make sure the security settings on your Web browser are at medium or high. If you are using Internet Explorer this can be done by going to Tools>Internet Options>Privacy.
Ø Consider using a more secure browser such as Firefox or Opera.
2. Check your system for viruses
A virus is so called because it reproduces itself by using the facilities of the host PC to copy itself to removable media and attach itself to emails, without your knowledge. There are variants, which may be technically characterised as worms or Trojans, but you don't want any of these. Most commonly you get one by opening an email attachment or copying (from deceptive software on the Internet or a bootleg CD) a program containing the virus, on to an unprotected PC. They take over the compromised PC and either trash your data or use your PC like a zombie to send hundreds or thousands of emails containing copies of itself, and/or spam, maybe with copies of your confidential data, to everybody in your address book.
There are many virus checking services offered free by the various Anti Virus vendors, such as House Call from Trend Micro:
These checks are only effective during the time that they are run and do not provide continued protection afterwards. You will need to install an Anti-Virus package for continuous protection. It is very important that it is updated regularly, ideally every day.
3. Install a Firewall
A personal firewall blocks unauthorised network connections from either entering or leaving the computer. This helps protect you either from malware entering your PC, or using it to attack others. You can download the following personal firewall from:
4. Block SpyWare and Identity Theft
"Spyware" is any technology that aids in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge. On the Internet, it gathers information such as email addresses, passwords, phone numbers, and credit card numbers, and relays it to advertisers or other interested parties. It is not to be confused with "Cookies" which are small files that contain a record of the last time you visited a web site; many e-commerce sites require their use to recognise returning visitors.
Ad-aware is a free product that will search for Spyware and report items found.
5. Be vigilant to protect your privacy
Ø Identity theft can ruin your credit rating and take months of effort to recover from. Exercise caution in your business affairs.
Ø If you receive an email allegedly from your bank, or Ebay, PayPal, FedEx, etc, asking you to verify your credit card data, it is almost certainly a scam, called "phishing". Sometimes it is inexpertly done and the web site address is not the real address but some variation on it. For example, ebay-accounts.com rather than ebay.com; or yourbankname.kr rather than yourbankname.ie. Report such attempts to the financial institution involved.