Picking up Where Antivirus Leaves Off
The first thing you need to do is download and install Secunia PSI (free, www.secunia.com). This nifty application audits every inch of your system for unpatched software that could potentially expose it to attack. Secunia PSI provides a threat rating for all of your outdated programs, and includes links to the latest patches.
Step two involves adding another layer of protection to Internet activities. BufferZone Pro (free, www.trustware.com) works its mojo by isolating all web-based activities in a virtual bubble. When it's active, a red border surrounds your browser or IM client, and if you download and install an infected file, it gets written to a virtual folder, not your OS.
The third and final step is to install a virtual machine, like VMWare Player (free, www.wmware.com) or Windows Virtual PC (free, http://bit.ly/3fAC9). While BufferZone Pro protects your system at the application level, a VM isolates your entire OS. It's the ultimate sandbox for experimenting with potentially harmful software or surfing the web willy-nilly; if you screw up and fall prey to attack, just nuke your VM and create a new one!