Set your Internet browser to block pop-ups from websites and advertisements. This will minimize spyware and the chances of clicking on an ad that loads malware onto your computer.
Install a security toolbar.
Toolbars with security features offer an additional line of defense. Most include features that block pop-ups, spam and known phishing sites. Some are even able to detect potential consumer scams.
Create User Accounts.
Create a user account that is separate from the default administrator account. Only log in as the administrator when making configuration changes to the computer. When the administrator account is used infrequently, the access to change configurations will be more limited to hacking. You may also want to create an individual user account for each member of the family who uses the computer. This will allow for each person to keep his or her information private.
Turn off your computer.
When you are not actively using your computer, shut down or disconnect from the Internet. If your computer is on-line less frequently, the chance of access by a malicious source decreases.
Lock your computer if you step away.
If you take a break from your computer for only a few minutes, it’s enough time for a hacker to destroy or steal your information. Locking your computer password-protects your session until you return and prevents anyone else from physically or remotely accessing your information.
Be careful with public computers.
Avoid banking or conducting other personal business on public computers at libraries, hotels and airports. Not only could the on-line activity be intercepted, but strangers in the area could watch your activity and remember passwords and other personal details.
Consider Apple computers.
Since Windows personal computers are much more prevalent in the marketplace, most viruses and spyware is designed to penetrate Windows software. Mac owners still deal with spam and phishing issues, but the odds of virus attack is much less likely.
Be wary of downloads.
Free downloads are plentiful on the Internet, and the thousands of games, software and utility programs are very useful. Unfortunately, many of these freebies include malware and spyware. Try to download programs only from well-known manufacturers and trusted sites.