What should I do to protect my computer?
Shut down you computer now. Pack it in the carton and never use it. Its then safe and protected. Free from any kind of virus, malware, tracking-cookies, backdoors, rootkits, etc, etc, etc.
This is obviously not the way to go. So, in the other way get your computer loaded up with at least a firewall, an anti-virus and an anti-spyware.
I have all of them. In fact they came loaded with my computer. Am I protected?
No, you are not, until you update them regularly. If you havent updated them then they are just occupying your hard disk space and just acting as system resource eaters.
So what should I do?
Restart your box. Update your firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware. Restart your computer and Boot in the SAFE MODE. Thoroughly scan your computer for viruses and malware. Adjust/Fine tune your firewall, create some rules to get your firewall working more effectively.
How much do they cost?
All tools listed above are absolutely FREE but the respective companies have commercial versions too, just in case you want to buy them. There is a significant difference between free and paid version . If you plan to buy any of them, I would recommend Zone Labs Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite. You can even download the trial version for 30 days. After that you SHOULD buy it or remove it. This not only applies to Zone Labs products but all commercial products available for a trial. Remember: Piracy is Bad.
Is there anything else, which can protect my computer?
Yes, there are hundreds of other tools (both hardware and softwares) like IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems), Hardware + Software Firewalls, etc. You might not need them just for home use. But if budget allows, buying a NAT Router with built-in little firewall would be a good decision.
I am often annoyed with those pop-ups saying I won __ Million dollars, My computer clock needs to be adjusted, I have error in my computer system, blah blah blah?
Most probably you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer without a pop-up blocker (like Google Toolbar) to browse web. Switch to Mozilla FireFox or Opera and reduce the pop-ups and other annoying active-x components to a large extent.
Everything is set, updated and fine-tuned. Is there anything else I should care about?
Yes, Passwords. Make them as secure as you can. Use characters that are not on keyboard, like Å,≈, €, etc wherever possible, Use a mixture of upper case, lowercase, numeric and special characters like !@#$%
I read somewhere
Passwords are like underpants. Change them often enough (especially if asked to), use only your own ones, dont keep them visible, dont brag about them and remember that changing them too often is not a sin.
I know there is spyware in my computer but my anti-spyware is unable to remove it. What should I do?
Download a tool called HJT or Hijack This. Run it in Safe Mode. Create a log file and analyze it to remove that spyware manually. If you are unable to remove then you can post that log to security related sites like Antionline.com and post your log there, they will help you out.
Can you give some other suggestions for safe web surfing?
Sure, Why not. Never include your password when sending an email, chatting, on forums or any other public place.
Never use P2P softwares like Kazaa, Lime Wire, etc. They just bring in loads of crap with the files you download through them.
Thats all I can dig out from my brain at this time. I hope it helps.