Do NOT depend on any kind of software firewall that runs on the same box it is supposed to protect. DO GET YOURSLF an external firewall/router box. If you shop around, you can easily find a used Linksys or Netgear or Dlink box for well under $50-.
The upside for that $50 is that the external box is usually at least a 4 port ethernet switch that does DHCP and DNS passthrough. So for that $50 you've got instant home networking. Downside is well, you've just spent *another* $50 to protect essentially unprotectable Microsoft product........
I have an openly admitted prejudice against any and ALL Symantec products. They impose just a little too much of themselves on a system and take up way to much in terms of system resources and add way to much potential instability to make them worth any bother at all.
The "stories are legend" about workstation problems that go away once Symantec products are deinstalled. YMMV of course.
My preferred anti-virus vendors, based on many years of corporate deployment and support are Trend (PC-cillin) and McAfee. Lots of broadband service providers offer 'free' McAfee subscriptions to their customers. Money saved right there.
One BIG HOLE is Internet Explorer. Use it as little as possible. I presently don't fire it up more than 3-4 times a month. Use Opera (preferred) or Firefox. Firefox has all the press/news these days but Opera has a 6 year head start on maturity, stability, and security over Firefox. Starting with version 8.5, Opera is now free, no more ad-ware banners.
The other big hole is Outlook in ALL of its incarnations. The above advice for MSIE goes for Outlook. Both Firefox and Opera have integrated email (and newsreaders, RSS clients, etc, etc) that work fine without the well-known and on-going dangers of using MSIE and Outlook.
Install a known-good Java machine. If you insall Sun Java, it will take priority over the crippled MS-Java machine that is included with the OS these days. IBM has a little-known but very-very good Java machine. The IBM JVM is hard to find, it takes some determination on ibm.com to actually find and d/l the thing.
Last edited by '98-ESer; 09-24-2005 at 08:58 PM.