This information is provided to keep your system a little safer from viral infections and script kiddies. It will not ensure 100% safety, but will greatly lesson your chances of having any problems from these annoyances.
1 - Use Common Sense. Don't give out information about yourself, your computer, where you work, the type of work you do, or anything else that could be used to identify you--this includes setting your computer name and workgroups to identify you or your name. Case in point: providing your real name, street address, telephone number, and work information on ICQ could be used by someone else to get a credit card in your name. Providing this information in your computer name and workgroup name could allow someone to readily access your system by using a common knowledge attack. What does this mean? If workgroup name is JohnDoe and computer name is JohnDoe....how much do you want to bet the user name is some combination of John Doe? Do you keep your bank records or other personal information on your computer?
2 - Disable Windows File and Printer Sharing. Not only can these services be used by others to access your computers files without your knowledge, they can even be used to dump mounds of personal information about you without your knowledge.
3 - Install a firewall. There are many forms of firewalls available today. There are commercial and residential firewalls. Some firewalls cost money, and some are free. Let me tell you right now, price does not matter in quality. Firewalls do not make you immune to anything, they only lesson your chances of someone accessing information on your computer. Of the firewalls I have personally tested, all of them can be fooled in some way or another. Two that I recommend for personal use are BlackIce Defender and ZoneAlarm.
4 - Install a firewall!!!! Yep, I did already say that. What, you don't believe me? You think you are safe? Well, go here and run the tests, GRC
5 - Keep your virus definitions updated at least weekly. See the link further above on what RHP Studios recommends for most home/small business computer users.
6 - Never open email attachments, even if it comes from someone you trust. More viruses and trojans are being spread this way for the simple fact that most people will open anything sent to them. Most new viruses are programmed to send the email to everyone in your contacts, helping the virus spread. The email you recieve might say it was from relatives or friends, but they might not even know they sent you any mail. Case in point, see our virus link for the most common viruses and trojans we find on systems we service. All of these require you to open a document before you are infected, and most are disguised as something else. You will not likely ever recieve an email that says, "VIRUS ATTACHED...OPEN ME TO BE INFECTED!".