Keep your computer current with the latest patches and updates . One of the best ways to keep attackers away from your computer is to apply patches and other software fixes when they become available . By regularly updating your computer , you block attackers from being able to take advantage of software flaws ( vulnerabilities ) that they could otherwise use to break into your system .
While keeping your computer up-to-date will not protect you from all attacks , it makes it much more difficult for hackers to gain access to your system , blocks many basic and automated attacks completely , and might be enough to discourage a less-determined attacker to look for a more vulnerable computer elsewhere .
More recent versions of Microsoft Windows and other popular software can be configured to download and apply updates automatically so that you do not have to remember to check for the latest software . Taking advantage of " auto-update " features in your software is a great start toward keeping yourself safe online .
Make sure your computer is configured securely . Keep in mind that a newly purchased computer may not have the right level of security for you . When you are installing your computer at home , pay attention not just to making your new system function , but also focus on making it work securely .
Configuring popular Internet applications such as your Web browser and email software is one of the most important areas to focus on . For example , settings in your Web browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox will determine what happens when you visit Web sites on the Internet — the strongest security settings will give you the most control over what happens online but may also frustrate some people with a large number of questions