Steps to Securing your system:

Windows XP

Step 0: SecCheck Run mNW SecCheck SCU Scan to highlight problems
Step 1a: If SecCheck Text Report indicates that you are NOT running Service Pack 2, then install SP2
Step 1b: If already running SP2, check Windows Security Center- and make sure you have Automatic Windows Update and Windows Firewall enabled
Step 2: If SecCheck shows virus activity: AVG Free Antivirus
Step 3: If SecCheck shows adware activity Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy
Step 4: SecCheck Run mNW SecCheck SCU Scan to verify clean...

Windows 9x/ME/2000

Step 0: SecCheck Run mNW SecCheck SCU Scan to highlight problems
Step 1: If you don't already have a firewall: Zone Alarm Install a free firewall
Step 2: If SecCheck shows virus activity: AVG Free Antivirus
Step 3: If SecCheck shows adware activity Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy

Additional Steps for all Systems

Step 0: Verify Java Version - Open Control Panel/Add Remove Programs - Uninstall any Java 1.4.xxx entries, install Java 1.5 (aka: Version 5.0)
Step 1: Limit access to your system only to those you can trust will use it safely

Best Practices by Internet application

In network security the word Secure does NOT describe a "state of being", rather it describes a a continuous process

Five Network Security Fallacies

  • Fallacy 1: I am not a target
  • Fallacy 2: My ISP provides security for me
  • Fallacy 3: I have an Anti-virus, I can't possibly be infected
  • Fallacy 4: Security is only critical for broadband connections
  • Fallacy 5: I can't afford adequate security

Five Steps to Keeping it Secure:

  • Step 1: Don't open risky files

    Risky files are ANY files that came from another computer: email attachments, shareware, games, screen savers, downloads from peer-to-peer file sharing networks. Don't even open email attachments that are *apparently* from someone you know, many email viruses automatically send themselves to everyone in the infected users address book. Thus if a friend gets infected, they will unknowingly send it to you.

  • Step 2: Never connect to the Internet without a firewall

    At any given time there are 10s of MILLIONS of infected computers on the Internet, many trying to propagate worms and viruses to as many other vulnerable systems they can find. There are 100s of known security vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system and there are likely dozens more that will be discovered shortly. Because there are so many systems scanning the Internet for vulnerable hosts EVERY single host on the Internet is is attempted at least once every few hours, therefore you can be infected literally in minutes. Keeping your system patches updated will protect you, however, if you connect without a firewall you'll likely become infected within minutes of the next vulnerability being discovered.

  • Step 5: Stay educated

    I can not recommend Broadband Reports Security Forum more highly. This is a discussion forum made up of thousands of security "power users" and is a great place to learn about the tools and procedures for keeping your system safe.