You’ve installed AVG / AntiVir / Norton / McAfee (or one of the others) so you’re safe, right?  Wrong!

  • You also need to keep all of these products up to date.  Check for updates regularly.  Daily is best, weekly is OK, monthly at a bare minimum.  Write it on your calendar, put a reminder in your phone, or get yourself a desktop alarm clock to remind you to do it if the software doesn’t do it for you.
  • Know the programs you have installed – and the date you installed them if possible.  Keep a list somewhere, or take screenshots of your Add or Remove Programs list (Start > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs).  This in itself may encourage you to uninstall programs you don’t need or use, which may help your computer to run faster and free up resources.
    Why keep a list of programs?  Well, sometimes Viruses or other Malware don’t hide, they “pretend” to be programs you want, such as “AntiVirus XP 2008” or “AV 2009” (see: These two are rogue Malware programs I’ve seen recently.

    • If you know the programs you have installed, then you’ll easily identify a rogue program that “pops up” unexpectedly – even if it seems genuine.
    • A list of the program you installed, or that you know are genuine, may also be useful if you take your computer to an expert to remove malware.
  • Keep your Operating System up-to-date. Make sure you have downloaded all of the latest Windows Updates, to ensure that you don’t have any known vulnerabilities still on your computer.
  • Use Firefox and Thunderbird, or other secure browsers or email clients.  These don’t prevent you from getting infected, but they may help you stay away from sites that are dangerous, or they may prevent pop-ups or other malware that targets Internet Explorer or Outlook/Outlook Express.
  • If you receive any email containing an attachment that you weren’t expecting, don’t open it:
    • First, check that the email address of the sender looks “sensible” – often the email address will not match the “Sender” name.
    • Consider, most legitimate/genuine companies will not send you information in an attachment if it’s the first time they’ve contacted you, but rather in the body of the email itself.
    • Right-click on the file, save it to your desktop.
    • Then right-click on the file and successively run any “Scan with…” options presented to scan the file with your installed (and up-to-date) anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.
    • If these scans do not show any problems, you may consider opening the file.

These tips will help you to stay safe online. There are also other websites on this subject, so if you read something useful on one of them, please feel free to leave a comment below.