Consumer Reports cautions you to only shop at sites you trust. And it's essential to protect your computer from spyware, viruses, and spam by installing security software.
Consumer Reports tested security suites costing $50 to $90. But Consumer Reports found security software that's free of charge that is on par with the best.
To fight viruses: AntiVir
To prevent spyware: Windows Defender from Microsoft
To stop spam: Spamfighter Standard
You also want to protect against phishing. Some e-mail messages look as though they come from banks and other companies, but they are actually lures to gain access to your accounts. Consumer Reports says never click on links in e-mail messages that go to banks or other sites that have your personal information. Instead, type the company's Web address into your browser.
And for more protection, Consumer Reports recommends downloading antiphishing software that's free of charge, such as the McAfee Site Advisor, which warns when you go to a dangerous site.
Apple computers are much less likely to be attacked by viruses and spyware. But because Macs can transmit infected files to Windows PCs even within a home network, Consumer Reports recommends that Mac users install an antivirus program, such as Norton Antivirus Eleven for Mac. It costs $50.