Hi ... First post here and i found this one at one of microsoft help site , its a real good post at least i think so ... I didn't write it and it comes in 2 post so if you like check the other one as well UPDATES and PATCHES ------------------- This one is the most obvious. There is no perfect product and any company worth their salt will try to meet/exceed the needs of their customers and fix any problems they find along the way. I am not going to say Microsoft is the best company in the world about this but they do have an option available for you to use to keep your machine updated and patched from the problems and vulnerabilities (as well as product improvements in some cases) - and it's free to you. Windows Update http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ Go there and scan your machine for updates. Always get the critical ones as you see them. Write down the KB###### or Q###### you see when selecting the updates and if you have trouble over the next few days, go into your control panel (Add/Remove Programs), match up the latest numbers you downloaded recently (since you started noticing an issue) and uninstall them. If there was more than one (usually is), install them back one by one - with a few hours of use in between, to see if the problem returns. Yes - the process is not perfect (updating) and can cause trouble like I mentioned - but as you can see, the solution isn't that bad - and is MUCH better than the alternatives. (SASSER/BLASTER were SO preventable with just this step!) Windows is not the only product you likely have on your PC. The manufacturers of the other products usually have updates as well. New versions of almost everything come out all the time - some are free, some are pay - some you can only download if you are registered - but it is best to check. Just go to their web pages and look under their support and download sections. You also have hardware on your machine that requires drivers to interface with the operating system. You have a video card that allows you to see on your screen, a sound card that allows you to hear your PCs sound output and so on. Visit those manufacturer web sites for the latest downloadable drivers for your hardware/operating system. Always (IMO) get the manufacturers hardware driver over any Microsoft offers. On the Windows Update site I mentioned earlier, I suggest NOT getting their hardware drivers - no matter how tempting. Have I mentioned that Microsoft has some stuff to help secure your computer available to the end-user for free? This seems as good of a time as any. They have a CD you can order (it's free) that contain all of the Windows patches through October 2003 and some trial products as well that they released in February 2004. Yeah - it's a little behind now, but it's better than nothing (and used in coordination with the information in this post, well worth the purchase price..) Order the Windows Security Update CD http://www.microsoft.com/security/protect/cd/order.asp They also have a bunch of suggestions, some similar to these, on how to better protect your Windows system: Protect your PC http://www.microsoft.com/security/protect/ FIREWALL -------- Let's say you are up-to-date on the OS (operating system) and you have Windows XP.. You should at least turn on the built in firewall. That will do a lot to "hide" you from the random bad things flying around the Internet. Things like Sasser/Blaster enjoy just sitting out there in Cyberspace looking for an unprotected Windows Operating System and jumping on it, doing great damage in the process and then using that Unprotected OS to continue its dirty work of infecting others. If you have the Windows XP ICF turned on - default configuration - then they cannot see you! Think of it as Internet Stealth Mode at this point. It has other advantages, like actually locking the doors you didn't even (likely) know you had. Doing this is simple, the instructions you need to use your built in Windows XP firewall can be found here: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=320855 If you read through that and look through the pages that are linked from it at the bottom of that page - I think you should have a firm grasp on the basics of the Windows XP Firewall as it is today. But let's say you DON'T have Windows XP - you have some other OS like Windows 95, 98, 98SE, ME, NT, 2000. Well, you don't have the nifty built in firewall. My suggestion - upgrade. My next suggestion - look through your options. There are lots of free and pay firewalls out there for home users. Yes - you will have to decide on your own which to get. Yes, you will have to learn (oh no!) to use these firewalls and configure them so they don't interfere with what you want to do while continuing to provide the security you desire. It's just like anything else you want to protect - you have to do something to protect it. Here are some suggested applications. A lot of people tout "ZoneAlarm" as being the best alternative to just using the Windows XP ICF, but truthfully - any of these alternatives are much better than the Windows XP ICF at what they do - because that is ALL they do. ZoneAlarm (Free and up) http://www.zonelabs.com/store/conte...reeDownload.jsp Kerio Personal Firewall (KPF) (Free and up) http://www.kerio.com/kpf_download.html Outpost Firewall from Agnitum (Free and up) http://www.agnitum.com/download/ MY FAVORITE RIGHT HERE BELOW ( PRO ) Sygate Personal Firewall (Free and up) http://smb.sygate.com/buy/download_buy.htm Symantec's Norton Personal Firewall (~$25 and up) http://www.symantec.com/sabu/nis/npf/ BlackICE PC Protection ($39.95 and up) http://blackice.iss.net/ Tiny Personal Firewall (~$49.00 and up) http://www.tinysoftware.com/ That list is not complete, but they are good firewall options, every one of them. Visit the web pages, read up, ask around if you like - make a decision and go with some firewall, any firewall. Also, maintain it. Sometimes new holes are discovered in even the best of these products and patches are released from the company to remedy this problem. However, if you don't get the patches (check the manufacturer web page on occasion), then you may never know you have the problem and/or are being used through this weakness. Also, don't stack these things. Running more than one firewall will not make you safer - it would likely (in fact) negate some protection you gleamed from one or the other firewalls you ran together. ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE ------------------ That's not all. That's one facet of a secure PC, but firewalls don't do everything. I saw one ***** posting on a newsgroup that "they had never had a virus and they never run any anti-virus software. Yep - I used to believe that way too - viruses were something everyone else seemed to get, were they just stupid? And for the average joe-user who is careful, uses their one-three family computers carefully, never opening unknown attachments, always visiting the same family safe web sites, never installing anything that did not come with their computer - maybe, just maybe they will never witness a virus. I see that AntiVirus software is an absolute necessity. You can be as careful as you want - will the next person be as careful? Will someone send you unknowingly the email that erases all the pictures of your child/childhood? Possibly - why take the chance? ALWAYS RUN ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE and KEEP IT UP TO DATE! Antivirus software comes in so many flavors, it's like walking into a Jelly Belly store - which one tastes like what?! Well, here are a few choices for you. Some of these are free (isn't that nice?) and some are not. Is one better than the other - MAYBE. I personally love Symantec AV. Symantec (Norton) AntiVirus (~$11 and up) http://www.symantec.com/ Kaspersky Anti-Virus (~$49.95 and up) http://www.kaspersky.com/products.html Panda Antivirus Titanium (~$39.95 and up) http://www.pandasoftware.com/ (Free Online Scanner: http://www.pandasoftware.com/activescan/) AVG 6.0 Anti-Virus System (Free and up) http://www.grisoft.com/ McAfee VirusScan (~$11 and up) http://www.mcafee.com/ AntiVir (Free and up) http://www.free-av.com/ avast! 4 (Free and up) http://www.avast.com/ Trend Micro (~$49.95 and up) http://www.trendmicro.com/ (Free Online Scanner: http://housecall.trendmicro.com/hou.../start_corp.asp) Did I mention you have to not only install this software, but also keep it updated? You do. Some of them (most) have automatic services to help you do this - I mean, it's not your job to keep up with the half-dozen or more new threats that come out daily, is it? Be sure to keep whichever one you choose up to date!