How to protect your computer against viruses:
- Run "Windows Update" on your computer. Some experts suggest once a week while others suggest once a month. This free service checks Microsoft's Windows Update Web site for any upgrades or "patches" needed to protect your computer from any flaws. In older Windows versions, such as Windows 95 or 98, go to the Start button, then hit "settings" and click on the Windows Update. You can schedule your computer to remind you to do the update at certain times. If you have newer versions of Windows, your computer should be set up for the update automatically. You can also check for updates in the Internet Explorer browser under the "tools" menu.
- Use anti-virus software and keep it updated. Your computer is only as protected as you make it by purchasing anti-virus software and updating it yearly (about $30 to $40) online. If you currently have anti-virus software loaded on your computer, but it's not updated, go to the Web site for the vendor to purchase the update.
Trend Micro, which sells anti-virus software, also offers a free anti-virus scanner at www.trendmicro.com. However, company officials say free anti-virus scanners are not as good as anti-virus programs that are loaded onto your hard drive because the free programs will not continuously check your computer for viruses.
- Use firewall software. Computer security experts say firewall software, which keeps hackers out of your computer systems, is just as important as anti-virus software. Some anti-virus programs come with firewalls while others are purchased separately. Users also can find firewall programs on www.download.com.