protecting your computer


Computer viruses and malicious software (or “malware”) such as trojan horses can seriously compromise your data security and privacy. You can prevent your computer from being infected by viruses and malware by taking the steps outlined in the checklist below.

To learn more about specific topics, go to these pages:

How to protect your computer

Focus on…

Antivirus software

  • Install antivirus software on your computer.
  • Keep your antivirus software license current.
  • Open email and attachments only from senders whom you know.
  • If you receive an attachment from someone you do not know, or you are not expecting an attachment, delete the file without opening it.

Email safety

  • Don’t include sensitive information in email.
  • Never click on links within an email.
  • Don’t open spam or attachments from strangers.
  • Be suspicious of emails asking for personal information.
  • Be selective when providing your email address.

Anti-spyware software

  • Install anti-spyware software on your computer.
  • Keep your anti-spyware software license current.
  • Read software agreements to understand exactly what applications are being installed on your computer.
  • Download software from the Internet only from trusted sources.

Firewall protection

  • Check your operating system to verify that your firewall is turned on.
  • If you don’t have a firewall, install one.
  • Use a firewall in conjunction with antivirus and anti-spyware software.

Online identity protection

  • Update and strengthen the security of your online passwords.
  • Use a secure browser and trusted computer for sensitive transactions.
  • Log off when you’re done using websites that require a user ID and password.
  • Shut down your computer when you’re not using it.
  • Lock your computer when it’s not in use.
  • Beware of shoulder surfing.

Software updates

  • Check your operating system’s automatic update settings to ensure you’re receiving updates.
  • Check your software programs for updates that may be available in the Help menu or on the vendor’s website.
  • Pay attention to pop-up messages within a program: these may be notices of available software updates.


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