“Security threats are escalating every year and becoming more malicious.”
— Adam Wosotowsky, Senior Anti-Spam Analyst, McAfee Labs

Understanding Security
If you connect to the Internet, allow other people to use your computer, or share files with others, you should take steps to protect your computer from harm. Why? Because there are computer criminals, also known as hackers, who attack other people’s computers.

These people can attack directly, by breaking into your computer through the Internet and stealing your personal information, or indirectly, by creating malicious software to harm your computer. Fortunately, you can help protect yourself by taking a few simple precautions.

Tips for Protecting Your Computer Against Security Threats
• Firewall: A firewall can help prevent hackers or malicious software from gaining access to your
• Virus protection: Antivirus software can help protect your computer against viruses, worms, and
other security threats.
• Spyware and other Malware protection: Anti-Spyware software can help protect your computer
from Spyware and other unwanted software.

Use a Firewall
A firewall is software or hardware that checks information coming from the Internet or a network to your computer. A firewall either stops or allows information to pass through to your computer, depending on your firewall settings. A firewall can help prevent hackers and malicious software from gaining access to your computer.

How a Firewall Works
If you run a program that needs to receive information from the Internet or a network—such as an instant messaging program or a multiplayer network game—the firewall asks if you want to block or unblock (allow) the connection. If you choose to unblock the connection, a firewall creates an exception so that the firewall won’t question you about that information coming through in the future.

Use Virus Protection
Viruses, worms, and Trojan horses are programs created by hackers that use the Internet to infect vulnerable computers. Viruses and worms can replicate themselves from computer to computer, while Trojan horses enter a computer by hiding inside an apparently legitimate program, such as a screen saver. Destructive viruses, worms, and Trojan horses can erase information from your hard disk or completely disable your computer. Others don’t cause direct damage, but decrease your computer’s performance and stability.

Antivirus programs scan e-mail and other files on your computer for viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. If one is found, the antivirus program either quarantines (isolates) it or deletes it entirely before it damages your computer and files.

Free Antivirus Program
Windows does not have a built-in antivirus program, but your computer manufacturer might have installed one. If not, there are many antivirus programs available. Microsoft offers Microsoft Security Essentials, a free antivirus program you can download from the Microsoft Security Essentials website. You can also find a third-party antivirus program.

Automatic Virus Updates
Because new viruses are identified every day, it’s important to use an antivirus program with an automatic update capability. When the program is updated, it adds new viruses to its list of viruses to check for, helping to protect your computer from new attacks. If the list of viruses is out of date, your computer is vulnerable to new threats. Updates usually require an annual subscription fee. Keep the subscription current to receive regular updates.

Use Spyware Protection
Spyware is software that can display advertisements, collect information about you, or change settings on your computer without obtaining your consent. For example, Spyware can install unwanted toolbars, links, or favorites in your web browser, change your default home page, or display pop-up ads frequently.
Some Spyware displays no symptoms that you can detect, but it secretly collects sensitive information, such as the websites you visit or the text you type. Most Spyware is installed through free software that you download, but in some cases, simply visiting a website results in a Spyware infection.

Anti-Spyware Programs
To help protect your computer from Spyware, use an anti-Spyware program. Some versions of Windows have a built-in anti-Spyware program called Windows Defender, which is turned on by default. Windows Defender alerts you when Spyware tries to install itself on your computer. It also can scan your computer for existing Spyware and then remove it.