Protect your computer from malicious programs and intruders by running an anti-virus utility and maintaining a firewall
Threats to your computer come in many forms, such as viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and spyware. You can find a non-technical explanation of these threats and advice for securing your home computer at the US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) web site, http://www.us-cert.gov/reading_room/HomeComputerSecurity/ .
An anti-virus utility protects your computer by scanning your computer's memory, hard drives, and removable media (such as diskettes). Depending on the product you choose and the configuration settings you specify, an anti-virus utility can also scan e-mail messages and attachments, as well as instant message attachments. Anti-virus utilities recognize malicious programs by looking for certain patterns that match a profile of a harmful program; this profile is often referred to as a virus signature. When an anti-virus utility detects a virus or other malicious program, it can delete the malicious program automatically.
To use anti-virus utilities effectively, you should not only install the utility, but configure it to automatically update its database of virus signatures. Each anti-virus utility maintains a database of virus signatures on your computer. The anti-virus utility uses this local database when it scans your computer. Because new viruses are constantly being created, companies that maintain anti-virus utilities constantly record new virus signatures. By configuring your anti-virus utility to automatically download new virus signatures, you can ensure that your anti-virus utility is using an up-to-date list when it scans your computer.
A firewall controls communication into and out of your computer. A firewall can keep intruders out of your computer and can also prevent "spyware" programs from sending your personal or financial information from your computer to a criminal's computer. If you are a non-technical person who is unfamiliar with firewalls, the US-CERT web site has a clear, non-technical explanation of what a firewall is and how it works. A firewall is particularly important if you have a cable or DSL connection to the Internet.
There are a number of companies that provide anti-virus and firewall products. Banking regulations prevent the Bank from recommending or endorsing a specific company or product. If you are looking for a place to start, however, the c|net Security Center provides a list of well-known anti-virus and firewall products as well as reviews of their features and performance.
Note: The c|net web site and the products listed there are not affiliated with the Bank in any way; the Bank does not vouch for the accuracy or validity of product information contained on c|net's web site. The Bank does not vouch for the effectiveness of any particular anti-virus or firewall product.