Source: US-CERT website
Install and Use Anti Virus Programs
You may also visit these sites to purchase virus software.
Keep your System Updated
Vendors often provide free patches on their websites. When you purchase programs, it's a good idea to see if and how the vendor supplies patches, and if and how they provide a way to ask questions about their products. Just as appliance vendors often sell extended warranties for their products, some software vendors may also sell support for theirs. Program vendors also provide a recall-like service. You can receive patch notices through email by subscribing to mailing lists operated by the programs' vendors. Through this type of service, you can learn about problems with your computer even before you discover them and, hopefully, before intruders have the chance to exploit them. Consult the vendor's website to see how to get email notices about patches as soon as they're available.
Some vendors have gone beyond mailing lists. They provide programs bundled with their systems that automatically contact their websites looking for patches specifically for your home computer. These automatic updates tell you when patches are available, download them and even install them. You can tailor the update features to do only want you want, such as just telling you something new is waiting but doing nothing more. Intruders exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to home computers. How do intruders find out about these vulnerabilities? In many cases, they read the same vendor mailing lists and use the same automatic notification schemes that you use. This means that you need to evaluate and install patches on your home computer as soon as they're available.
Use Care When Reading Email with Attachments
Email viruses and worms are fairly common. Chances are you will receive one. The following steps from the government site CERT help you in deciding if the email you are about to open is safe or not.
- The KNOW test: Is the email from someone that you know?
- The RECEIVED test: Have you received email from this sender before?
- The EXPECT test: Were you expecting email with an attachment from this sender?
- The SENSE test: Does email from the sender with the contents as described in the subject line and the name of the attachment(s) make sense?
- The VIRUS test: Does this email contain a virus? To determine this you need to install and use an anti-virus program.
Make Backups of Important files
"Important" is the key word here. You want to backup your important files. Whether using disks or TMCC network space, you should perform backups from as often as every few minutes for work you are currently updating to once every three months for regular backups.
Use Strong Passwords
A strong password is not the name of your pet. A strong password is not your birth date. A strong password is not a word you can find in the dictionary. To find out how to 'beef' up your passwords, check out the following links:
Use Care When Downloading and Installing Programs
There is a multitude of free and for-purchase programs available on the Internet. Once these programs are installed on your computer, you are at the mercy of the program's author. That is why it is important that you obtain any programs to be installed from reputable sources.
How do you decide if the program you want to install is worth the risk? The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team website provides some excellent suggestions.
Install and Use a Hardware Firewall
Complement your firewall program by installing a hardware firewall. Together, these two firewalls stand between your home computer and the Internet. This is another place where your money is well spent.
Please go to Task 4 — Install and Use a Firewall Program (US-CERT) to learn more about firewalls. That section concentrates primarily on firewall programs, but much of the information applies to hardware firewalls as well. To find out what hardware firewall products are available, search the Internet with your Web browser.