We’ve been telling you to have a good internet security program installed on your computer. Choose the one you like or get a recommendation from a computer professional. We are finding that people are listening, but not everyone knows just how to set up the protection.
A good internet security program will update its virus, firewall, and malware definitions every day and scan all the stuff that you load into the computer, including mail, attachments, programs, and documents–if you tell it to! Be sure you read the directions to enable all the protection. Note that the programs can scan known malware as you work on files or on the web. The bad guys, though, are always out there making more bad stuff. So what your program thinks is safe right now may no longer be safe. This is why a complete computer scan is necessary.
One feature of a good anti-malware program allows you to scan your computer on a set schedule. (Some free programs do not allow you this option.) On a desktop computer this works fine, as the computer is turned on for most of the day. On a laptop, however, the computer is mostly off unless you are actually using it. So—in many cases the program never gets a chance to scan your machine! The best thing to do in this case is to run a “manual” scan of your hard drive at least once a week. Just tell it to “scan now” and let it run. Should take about ½ hour–more if you have tons of data.