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Best practices for keeping yourself safe from viruses

Viruses are malicious programs that can damage your computer as well as the information stored on it. They can also slow down the Internet, and they might even use your computer to spread themselves to your friends, family, co-workers, and the rest of the World Wide Web. The good news is that with an ounce of prevention and some good common sense, you are less likely to fall victim to these threats.

Windows Live OneCare works to protect your computer from viruses. At the same time, there are some basic practical steps that you can take to keep your system safe. Think of it as locking your front door to protect your entire family.

Prevent virus infection

  1. Stay green. Keep your Windows Live OneCare default settings in place for maximum protection.
  2. Keep your system software up-to-date. Make sure that you are running the latest updates for your Windows operating system, Internet Explorer, and Office applications. Windows Update has an auto-update feature that you can set to notify you and to download new updates automatically when they become available.

Take precautions

  1. Never open an e-mail or instant message attachment from a stranger.
  2. Never open an e-mail or instant message attachment from someone you know, unless you know exactly what the attachment is. If in doubt, send a separate (i.e., totally new) e-mail or instant message to the sender to verify the contents and legitimacy of the attachment.
  3. In short, never open anything that is attached to an e-mail or instant message unless you were expecting the attachment and you know the exact contents of that file.
  4. Never install or run software attachments (for example, .exe files) sent through e-mail or instant messaging, even if they seem to come from a legitimate source. (Microsoft will never include the security updates themselves in e-mail; instead, you will be advised to go to the Windows or Office Update Web site or antivirus company site to download the latest updates.)
  5. Never download software (including free applets and applications, etc.), from sources that you don't trust.
  6. Never click Web hyperlinks in e-mails from strangers. If you receive e-mail from a legitimate-looking source (bank, software company, online retailer) that includes a hyperlink to a Web site, do not click it. Instead, retype the URL into a new browser window, or go directly to that company's home page in a new browser window.
  7. Do not reply to or forward e-mail chain letters. Besides clogging Internet bandwidth, such things leave you with little control over who gets your e-mail address.

By following these guidelines, you will be an active partner in your own PC security.


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