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Five steps to safe computing:

1. Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date by periodically downloading the latest virus definitions from the software vendor's Web site.

2. Back up your files regularly. If a virus deletes some files, you can easily restore the originals.

3. Be skeptical of unsolicited e-mails and don't let curiosity get the better of you. If the message is too good to be true - if dozens of people suddenly want to tell you they love you, for example - then it probably is.

4. Ensure there are no security vulnerabilities in your operating system and applications like e-mail programs. Companies like Microsoft regularly offer patches on their Web sites that users download to plug security holes.

5. If you have an always-on connection to the Internet via a cable modem or a digital-subscriber-line modem (or one of those high-speed connections), install a personal firewall that stops hackers from secretly breaking into your computer.