The Internet is a dangerous place. When your connected to it, you need to make sure to protect yourself from it. Right now there are several very active worms out there, crippling systems around the world. Here are some basic steps you can take to protect yourself from the Internet.
1) Don’t open any email attachments you didn’t specifically request. Too many of today’s viruses and worms use email as their propagation method. Either delete unsolicited email attachments automatically or verify the source before opening them.
2) Have anti-virus software installed This is a basic step many people overlook entirely. Get McAfee, Trend-micro or whatever, but get an anti-virus program on your computer.
3) Stay up to date on your operating system and virus definition patches. They take time to install, occasionally cause more harm than good, and are just more thany many people want to deal with, but these patches are important. Learn how to update your computer. If you can use the Windows Update site, great, but it has been taking a hammering from one of the current worms, mblaster.
4) If you have a broadband connection (cable, DSL, etc.), make sure you have a firewall. You can either have a hardware firewall, such as a Linksys router, or a software firewall. I personally prefer to have both. A router with built in firewall is the best starting point for a home user. They have become very easy to setup and the price has come way down, <$100. A software firewall, such as Zone Alarm, is also good, but then your stopping the threat a little closer to your valuable computer. A personal firewall is also a good for users who have dial-up access.
5) Use common sense Anything that sounds too good to be true probably is. Don’t follow the link from an anonymous email promising quick riches or cheap products. Most of those are just attempts to get your money, and some are going to try and install software on your computer or get information from your computer.
These general rules should apply whether your at home or at work. At work at least the patching should be taken care of for you. But the common sense part is still up to you.