Win XP SP2, Cable internet. From reading these forums and others. I have gathered that security falls into two general concerns: 1) inbound intrusion, and 2) malware on the system. I do regular Spybot, Ad-Aware MS antispyware scans, no live protection from these three, though. I have read the post where minimim , standard, and serious configuration suggestions are layed out. I am not going to go that far. I am thinking AV, router, something to see if malware is trying to phone home. For inbound intrusion I have a NAT firewall router. From what I have read, this is pretty good to keep me safe from crackers. So, assuming that I have inbound covered well enough. I am working on the next stage, malware on the system. 2) From reading, it seems that I need to kill malware and control its outbound communication if it tries to do so. Questions- 1. AV software running in the background at all times is a must, right ? I am trying out NOD32 right now. Seems good. 2. With my router and NOD32 in place. What do you suggest I do to make sure that malware can't phone home with my account numbers. I am not savvy, I do not know port numbers. I can probably even be fooled by a trojan that says that it is Internet Explorer or some service host of windows. I do not know whether free firewalls or some other kind of program is more suitable for this purpose with me and my limited knowlege running the show. 3. which free firewalls are generally considered the best of the bunch ? 2 or three that are good is what I am asking. I am trying out Jetico on my laptop and I like it. Also, if there is another kind or type of program for this purpose, which ones should I look into? Thanks for your help, B.