1. Windows Update - Check Windows Update and regularly. Configure automatic updates via the control panel click on the Automatic Updates tab in the System control panel and choose the appropriate options. We recommend choosing the last option: "Automatically download the updates, and install them on the schedule I specify (ie. Every Day, 9:00AM)".
2. Anti-Virus Software - Buy anti-virus software and keep it up to date. If you're not willing to pay, try Grisoft AVG Free Edition (www.grisoft.com). Though, Norton's Anti-virus isn't the top selling software in the world without reason. Use Live Update to ensure your computer is safe
3. Internet Dangers - Be skeptical of things on the Internet. When browsing the web don't accept any installations without knowing it is necessary.
4. Firewall Software - Install a personal firewall. Free firewall's available now are Comodo (www.personalfirewall.comodo.com), and Zone Alarm (www.zonelabs.com) offer free versions. Or if you chose not to use a third party firewall, turn on Microsoft Windows XP built in firewall that is part of Windows XP SP2
5. Spy-ware Software UPDATE: Spyware problems are slowly disappearing as Microsoft has improved Windows so spyware it not so easily loaded, especially if you are running Vista with UAC On or Windows SP2.. In addition many anti-virus products include a level of spyware protection now. If you want to ensure your spyware FREE, chose SpyBot Search & Destroy, and Ad-Aware to check your system.
6. Passwords - Use strong passwords and change them periodically. Passwords should have at least seven characters; use letters and numbers and have at least one symbol
7. Disable Windows Pop-Ups - Block pop-up spam messages in Windows XP, 2000, or NT by disabling the Windows Messenger service (this is unrelated to the instant messaging program).
8. Wireless Security - If you have a wireless network, turn on the security features: Use MAC filtering, turn off SSID broadcast, and even use WEP with the biggest key you can get. Use the strongest possible security, instead of WEP use WPA2.
9. Security Groups - Join a e-mail security list or newsgroup. You can learn about emerging threats quickly and can take proper precautions.