It isn't difficult to help protect your PC from viruses and other threats, but you have to be diligent. Here are few preventive steps you can take.
Use an antimalware app. Installing an antimalware app and keeping it up to date can help defend your PC against viruses and other malware (malicious software). Antimalware apps scan for viruses, spyware, and other malware trying to get into your email, operating system, or files. New threats can appear daily, so check the antimalware manufacturer's website frequently for updates.
Windows Defender is free antimalware software included with Windows, and you can update it automatically through Windows Update. You can also visit the Windows Store and look for an antivirus app. You can also visit the Windows 8 Compatibility Center to find antivirus apps that work with Windows 8.
Don't open email messages from unfamiliar senders, or email attachments that you don't recognize. Many viruses are attached to email messages and will spread as soon as you open the attachment. It's best not to open any attachment unless it's something you're expecting.
Use a pop-up blocker with your Internet browser. Pop-up windows are small browser windows that appear on top of the website you're viewing. Although most are created by advertisers, they can also contain malicious or unsafe code. A pop-up blocker can prevent some or all of these windows from appearing.
Pop-up Blocker in Windows Internet Explorer is turned on by default. SmartScreen Filter also helps identify potentially malicious websites and known malware.
Make sure SmartScreen Filter in Internet Explorer 10 is turned on. SmartScreen Filter in Internet Explorer helps protect you from phishing and malware attacks by warning you if a website or download location has been reported as unsafe.
Pay attention to Windows SmartScreen notifications. Be cautious about running unrecognized apps downloaded from the Internet. Unrecognized apps are more likely to be unsafe. When you download and run an app from the Internet, SmartScreen uses information about the app's reputation to warn you if the app isn't well-known and might be malicious.
Keep Windows updated. Periodically, Microsoft releases special security updates that can help protect your PC. These updates can help prevent viruses and other malware attacks by closing possible security holes.
Turn on Windows Update to make sure that Windows receives these updates automatically. To learn how, see Windows automatic updating: Frequently asked questions.
Use a firewall. Windows Firewall or any other firewall app can help notify you about suspicious activity if a virus or worm tries to connect to your PC. It can also block viruses, worms, and hackers from trying to download potentially harmful apps to your PC.
To learn more about Windows Firewall, see What are the risks of allowing apps through a firewall?
Use your Internet browser's privacy settings. Being aware of how websites might use your private info is important to help prevent targeted advertising, fraud, and identity theft.
If you're using Internet Explorer, you can adjust your privacy settings or restore the default settings whenever you want.
Turn on User Account Control (UAC). When changes are going to be made to your PC that require administrator-level permission, UAC notifies you and gives you the chance to approve the change. UAC can help keep viruses from making unwanted changes.
Clear your Internet cache and your browsing history. Most browsers store info about the websites you visit, and they might also store info that websites might ask you to provide (such as your name and address). While it can be helpful to have these details stored on your PC, there are times when you might want to delete some or all of them—for example, when you're using a public PC and don't want to leave personal info behind.