Well I think the others have suitably covered the AV side, so I'll give the staying safe side of this a go
As part of my malware removal degree, I've had to write a canned speech on how to stay safe (that you give to the user after cleaning their system). I've cut and pasted the appropriate ones. The following things won't keep you 100% safe, but they'll do a pretty good job at it!
4. MVPs HOSTS File
- Download the MVPs HOSTS File to your desktop
- Extract the files from the .zip folder
- Right click on mvps.bat and select Run As Administrator
- This should open up a command window, follow the on screen instructions
- Open your start menu, and type cmd
- Right click on cmd and select Run As Administrator
- When it opens, type the following:
The MVPs (Microsofts Most Valuable Professionals) have made this host file which contains a very large list of advertising/malicious websites by redirecting them to the IP 127.0.0.1 (your own computers). This means that whenever you attempt to load one of these sites, your computer won't be able to connect to them hence making your browsing safer and slightly faster
5. Ensure all programs are updated
- Download and install Secunia PSI
- Run this regularly to ensure programs are not out of date
This program compares the current version number of all of your software against the most recent version number and displays which programs need updating. It also provides links to do this. This ensures that the latest security holes and vulnerabilities in your software are patched - reducing your chance of infection through an exploit e.g. a PDF exploit
7. Backing up registry
- In the event of registry corruption/damage then you can restore your registry to a previous date by using this software
- Follow this tutorial to set up daily registry backups: ERUNT Daily Registry Backup Tutorial
This handy little tool will backup and rebuild your registry on a daily basis. Sometimes things can go wrong on your computer - perhaps caused by a virus, perhaps a bug - and this could lead to your registry being corrupted or damaged. This could have all sorts of adverse effects on your system and could potentially stop Windows from functioning or booting. By doing this, we are able to restore to one of these backups if needs be
8. WOT Link Scanning
- Install WOT (Web Of Trust) from here Safe Browsing Tool - WOT
- This program provides information about the safety of websites and links that you visit.
- The ratings can be found below:
Green - Website is highly rated
Yellow - Website should be used with caution
Red - This website should be avoided
- A complete list of the symbols can be found here
WOT provides colour coded link scanning for websites and allows you to see whether a link you are about to click on is bad - e.g. malicious
10. Make Internet Explorer More Secure
- This software prevents the installation of Spyware on your system by blocking a specific list of ActiveX controls that are known to be spyware related.
- Once you have installed this program, make sure you update it.
- Open SpywareBlaster and tick the Enable Protection For All Unprotected Items
Some infections can be caused by malicious ActiveX controls, all this program does is block a large list of controls that are known to be malicious