1. Make sure you have a good anti-virus and keep it up to date.
2. Be aware of what you are downloading or installing on your PC. Many of us just click “NEXT…NEXT…NEXT” without reading each stage of the install. Why is this important? Many times, even legitimate download sites, include “CRAPWARE” in the install and if you don’t stop long enough to “UNCHECK” the option, you will wind up with a toolbar or some other garbage program and/or you will find that your homepage has been changed.
3. Watch out for e-mails from your contact list that include nothing more than a link. DO NOT click on that link if it is the only thing in the e-mail. Many times this is an indication that your contact’s e-mail has been infected or their contact list has been compromised. Make sure to notify your contact, because they are usually not aware of the intrusion. Tell your contact to change their password AND their secret questions and answers…ASAP.
4. Watch out for other e-mails, such as one from your bank telling you that “Your account has been frozen due to questionable activity. To re-activate your account, click on the link provided and log-in with your user name and password”. Again, DO NOT click on that link! It may very well be a “phishing” e-mail designed to steal your login information. Go directly to your bank’s website to log-in, DO NOT use the link provided in the e-mail. This holds true for ANY service asking for your passwords such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other account you may have. Forward any questionable e-mails to your bank. Most banks have an abuse e-mail address for this sort of thing.
5. Be aware of “UPDATES” that pop up on your PC. They may be legitimate or they might just LOOK like they are legitimate. For example, the “JAVA UPDATE” you get may look very much like the real thing; but if you click on “UPDATE”, you may have just given permission to download and install several unwanted programs such as PC Pro, PC Optimizer, PC Optimizer Pro or something similar. If you suspect an update is questionable or something pops up that you haven’t seen before, DO NOT click on it! Your best bet is to go directly to the website, in this case, Java, and update your PC from the website.
6. Make sure you have a recent back up of all your data on a flash drive, DVD or preferably, an external hard drive.
7. THEN DISCONNECT IT FROM YOUR PC!! This is VERY IMPORTANT in that some malware such as CryptoLocker, will encrypt your hard drive AND any drives attached to your computer. You can pick up an external hard drive with as much as a terabyte (roughly 1,000 Gb) of storage for under $100.
OH YEA, Just one more thing: BACK UP YOUR DATA!!