Help protect your computer without losing your information—or your mind

By Kim Douglas

In the mood for a scary story? Go to your favorite news website and search for the phrase "computer security." A quick scan of the headlines should raise your blood pressure: Risk. Scam. ID theft. Hacker. Attack. Predator. It doesn't take much imagination to picture a cartoon burglar lurking around every corner of the Internet, wearing the customary striped sweater and eye mask, and ready to scurry off with all of your personal information in a canvas sack.

Well, there are potential dangers to your computer out there. Viruses and other malicious software (or malware) pose a genuine threat, and could make your data unusable or steal it outright. You might even make an honest mistake, installing software or changing a setting that can cost you time, frustration, or money to correct. But don't panic: new and improved features in Windows 7 can help you secure your PC at home, online, and on the go. In this column, I'll point out some of the ways you can better protect your computer from bad guys and, occasionally, from yourself.
Tips to help protect your PC at home, from online threats, and while on the go: Taking control of computer security.