Here are 3 free programs that you can download from www.download.com that will go a long way to protecting your data and your computer.
Grisoft AVG free edition – This antivirus program has been around for a number of years now. Its fast and is kind to your system resources allowing you to surf the net or play solitare while it’s running in the background.
Spybot S&D – I can not say enough good things about this lightweight anti malware tool. Originally designed to kill spyware, it has expanded to also hunting trojans and rootkits. The advanced feature also provide tools for cleaning the registry, configuring your start-up programs, and securing your hosts file. The only bad thing I can say about it is that it does not scan automatically.
Comodo Pro firewall – This firewall quickly became my favorite replacement for windows firewall on both XP and Vista machines. It has a pretty intuative interface that allows you to very specifically control what network traffic travels to and from your machine. It also has a nice leaning mode that protects your system while it learns what you use and what programs need to be able to talk to locations on the internet.
These three aplications should block most malware on the internet. Of course there is no substitute for a little caution on your part, so be careful where you visit.