Antivirus software, when properly configured and maintained, is an important factor in protecting your computer and your information — but it can't do it all. Practice the following procedures when operating your home computer to minimize the risk of computer viruses, worms, and even spam:

  • Never open e-mail messages from people you do not know.

  • Never open attachments in unexpected or strange messages from people you don't know (or do know).

  • Install security patches when they are available.

  • Turn on Automatic Updates so that you can learn of new security patches when they become available.

  • Regularly back up your important data.

  • Use secure Web browser settings.

  • Download files only from trusted and well-known sites.

  • Use alternate e-mail accounts for higher-risk activities like mailing
    lists and Web site registrations.

  • Disconnect your computer from the Internet when you are not using it.

  • Password-protect and use your screen saver if you work where others have access to your computer.

  • Filter annoying and harmful e-mail with a spam filtering program.

  • Block worms and Trojan horses with a hardware or software firewall.

  • Block spyware and other potentially harmful software with a spyware filtering program.

  • Don't go to Web sites you've never heard of before.