To help keep your PC safe, please follow a four-pronged defense as follows:
......and keep the virus signature files updated.
Example: Norton Antivirus, McAfee Antivirus
A licensed version offers real time file and email protection, scheduled scans, automated updates, etc.
If you don't have the funds to buy a licensed version, go for example to www.symantec.com and click on Symantec Security Check. They offer to do free web scanning of your pc for viruses and a free probe of your pc to identify possible security breaches. There is also the AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition.
If a virus is found, downloads of removal tools for specific viruses are also available.
...that detects and removes any exploits, hacks, backdoors, tracking cookies, malware on your system. Keep it updated.
Example: AdAware - you may download the free version (for personal use) at www.lavasoft.de. Updates are free as well.
Being a free utility, you have to manually run this to do the ad scan and to download updates.
Microsoft also provides a built-in product called the "Malicious Software Removal Tool." It may be downloaded as part of the updates in #4 below.
... and keep it's settings strict, and keep it updated.
Example: Zone Alarm - you may download the free version (for personal use) from www.download.com.
For Windows XP users, Service Pack 2 now offers this functionality. You may choose to uninstall Zone Alarm, or you could choose to disable the built-in firewall function of XP.
From Internet Explorer 5 and above, click on Tools | Windows Update and apply the applicable service packs and patches. Microsoft also offers 'Microsoft Update' as opposed to just 'Windows Update' where you could also also download MS Office and related applications from a common page.
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