Seven ways to keep your computer virus free

Online pop-ups offer all kinds of tempting deals, but as soon as you click one, the prize disappears - and so does your computer's security. If your computer isn't protected, someone could access your personal information or expose you to a virus that brings your computer to a crashing halt.

Take these steps to make sure your computer is secure:

Create a secure password. Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters - just make sure it's something you can remember!

Use antivirus software. Configure your antivirus software to update automatically so your protection is always current. Also, regularly check for updates for all software you use to eliminate any gaps in security.

Set up a firewall. A firewall can help secure access control and prevent someone else from remotely taking over your computer.

Disable JavaScript. Secure your browser by disabling JavaScript for all but the most essential websites. This will help you browse the Internet more safely and eliminate unwanted pop-ups.

Avoid pop-ups. Never click on a pop-up box without reading it carefully, and don't allow any program to download that you didn't specifically request.

Watch for suspicious e-mails from your bank. Be wary of e-mails reporting a security concern from your bank or financial institution. Don't log in from the e-mail; instead, visit your bank's website and log in there, and call your bank to confirm the report and alert them to any scams.

Check the privacy policy. Read a website's privacy policy before entering any personal information, and make sure the site offers a secure connection before giving your credit card information.