- Go to Start/Settings/Control Panel.
- Double-click the "Network and Internet Connections" icon.
- Open "Network Connections".
- Right-click on the network connection you wish to change (e.g., "Local Area Connection") and select "Properties".
- Make sure "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networking" is unchecked.
Download and install software patches as needed. Once the computer has been protected from imminent attack through the use of either a hardware or software-based firewall and the disabling of file and print sharing, it should be relatively safe to connect to the network in order to download and install any software patches necessary. It is important not to skip this step since otherwise the computer could be exposed to exploitation if the firewall were to be disabled or file/print sharing turned back on at some later date. Go to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ and follow the instructions there to install all Critical Updates.
Install and use antivirus software
With all the malicious software floating around the Internet (viruses, worms, Trojan software, etc) an up-to-date antivirus software package is a definite MUST. Anti-Virus software is not a cure-all, but it is your best front-line defense against compromise. A couple of my favorites (free for personal use) are AVG Free Edition and AntiVir Personal Edition.
There is also a good listing of commercial Anti-Virus products available here.
A growing problem is the plethora of spyware and adware that can be surreptitiously installed on your system, either while browsing the Internet, or sometimes by downloadable programs that we install on our own. I recommend you download and install Spybot-S&D and Ad-aware SE Personal. These two programs, working in concert, provide optimal protection against the latest spyware and adware.
Pop-up Ads! We all get them; we all hate them! There's nothing more irritating that surfing along, minding my own business, and getting blasted with multiple windows popping up and begging me to buy the latest junk software. At least, nothing other than SPAM, but we'll get to that later.