Hackers and identity thieves are constantly on the prowl, looking for vulnerable computer systems to break into. The worst thing you can do is to simply assume that your computer is safe. Implement basic tips and precautions to help protect your computer from hackers.
First and foremost, download and install an anti-virus application. A few of the free anti-virus applications include Microsoft Security Essentials (Microsoft.com/security_essentials/default.aspx), AVG (avg.com), Avast! (avast.com), PC Tools antivirus (download.CNET.com/PC-Tools-AntiVirus-Free/3000-2239_4-10625067.html?part=dl-6257086&subj=dl&tag=button).
Keep your operating system up-to-date with the latest security patches.
Run virus scans on a fairly frequent basis. Pick a time when you're not using the computer because running a virus scan will slow your computer down significantly. Scan your hard drive a minimum of once a week, but two to three times a week is ideal.
It may be tempting to "shoot the UFO out of the sky" or other types of things that may pop up in online advertisements. But most of those ads are rigged to install spyware or adware on your system after you click on them. Some of the worst are the "You just won a free iPhone!" type of ads. You're asking for trouble if you click on these ads.
Don't ever allow your browser to remember your passwords. True, it may be a bit of an inconvenience to enter your password every time you log in. But allowing your browser to remember your passwords is basically inviting hackers to throw a party at your expense.
Make your passwords long and complicated, and with a good mix of letters and numbers, as well as utilizing case-sensitive letters. Don't use anything familiar, such as your birthday, your children's names or anything like that. If a hacker wants to attempt to break into your email accounts, at least make him work for it.