One area of the economy that is not suffering at the moment is cybercrime, with online scams, employment spam and branking fraud all set to increase during the economic downturn.
So McAfee is urging all PC owners to activate firewalls and security software to avoid losing money from the spate of viruses, spyware and phishing schemes that are active.
To help users ensure their safety, the security company shares a list of dos and don'ts:
* Do make sure your PC has comprehensive security software.
Your security software, at a minimum should include: anti-virus, a two-way firewall, anti-spyware, anti-phishing and safe search capabilities. Additional levels of protection include anti-spam, parental controls, wireless network protection and anti-theft protection, which encrypts sensitive financial documents. Don't just use anti-virus software – this alone is not enough.
* Do understand if your security software auto-updates or requires you to update it.
New viruses, spyware, Trojans and malicious programs require new software updates. Companies like McAfee monitor for these new viruses 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and provide auto-updates as they are needed so consumers don't have to remember to update their software themselves. For software that does require you to manually update it, set a date each day or week. Don't forget, when you buy a new PC, to check whether the security software installed is only a trial version, and, if so, remember to buy a subscription so that you have continuous protection.
* Do use e-mail wisely.
E-mail is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, but keep in mind that even if you have good security software on your PC – your friends and family might not have the right protection.
Don't Send credit card details and other private information via e-mail; open e-mails from people you do not know; and download information or click on links that come unsolicited.
* Do watch out for phishing scams.
Phishing scams use fraudulent e-mails and websites, masquerading as legitimate businesses, to lure unsuspecting users into revealing private account or login information. Make sure you have anti-phishing technology which will flag known phishing websites. Don't forget to always verify web addresses before submitting your personal information.
* Do educate your family and pay attention to your children's online activities.
Keep your computer in a common area and discuss what information is appropriate to share online and what is not, such as addresses, phone numbers, and other private information. Don't assume your child doesn't know how to turn off parental controls.
* Do create smart and strong passwords.
Create a smart password by incorporating capital letters, numbers, special characters and using more than six characters. An example of a strong password is: Go1dM!n3. Don't use the same password for many different accounts.
* Do search and shop safely.
According to Netcraft's November 2008 Web Server Survey, there are more than 185-million domain names registered, making it nearly impossible to know which websites are safe and which are risky. Users can download McAfee SiteAdvisor software for free, and should always read the online store's privacy and security policies before shopping.
* Do back up critical information.
* Do use Instant Messaging (IM) programmes wisely.
When using an IM programme to communicate with friends and family, be careful about sending any personal information and protect yourself by using a nickname for your IM screen name. Don't accept strangers into your IM groups.
* Do have fun with online gaming.
Online gamers are the second largest target of malware writers, who often attack with password-stealing Trojans. This is good reason to make sure your security software is updated. Be sure that your security software still functions when you are in game mode, and don't share personal information while playing online games,
especially when chatting with other players.