It's an unfortunate reality that there are a lot of malicious viruses and malware designed to infect your computer. Fortunately there's a lot you can do to protect yourself; we'll cover the main steps below:
Get some security software
It won't do everything but a good security program is essential. we currently offer PC Security which should help stop most threats. For best results schedule a weekly scan of your system to check for anything that might have slipped through.
Keep your operating system updated
Supported versions of Microsoft Windows and Apple OSX are regularly updated to remove any vulnerabilities. Both systems should update automatically but you can check using Windows Update or by going into Software Update in the Apple menu on your Mac.
Operating systems aren't supported forever though so you'll want to be aware when support will stop. For instance Microsoft stopped support for Windows XP on April 8 2014.
Make sure your other software is updated
Make sure any software you use is up to date and supported. Most web browsers will update automatically but some other software like Microsoft Office will require you to upgrade. A good example is Microsoft Office 2003 which was no longer supported as of April 8 2014. If you have this version then you could consider Office 365 Small Business Premium.
Be savvy with free software
There are a wide variety of excellent free programs out there but there some bad eggs. If you're not familiar with the software do a web search first and see if it's been identified as malware. If in doubt don't install it.
This includes free security software. There are some excellent ones out there but many others are actually malware in disguise.
Don't click on that pop-up or flashing banner
Avoid flashing banners that say that you have won a prize. This includes any games that ask you to see if you can hit a target. Many of these games are means of generating spam.
Be careful of clicking on links within pop-up windows.
See our guide on how to remove it.