To the short list of life's certainties--death and taxes--we can now add "Web threats."
Does this mean you should cancel your broadband account and dig out the ham radio? I don't recommend it. In fact, reports such as these show the folly of believing that our Web browsing is ever completely safe. No hardware or software will ever be 100 percent secure.
Yes, keep your antivirus definitions up-to-date. Yes, use a firewall. Download and install Giorgio Maone's NoScript extension for Firefox (donation requested) to gain site-by-site control over the scripts that run in the browser.
But even these precautions are no substitute for common sense. Be careful about the sites you visit and the links you click. View your e-mail as plain text; Microsoft's support site provides instructions for doing so in Outlook 2003 and 2007. In Mozilla Thunderbird, simply click View, Message Body As, Plain Text.
Last, but definitely not least, every PC user must acknowledge that the day will dawn when their system crashes for good--whether due to a malware attack or (more likely) a hardware or software failure. Keep your data backed up. In addition to creating an image backup of your hard drive once or twice a year, using a program such as Acronis' $50 True Image Home (15-day free trial), use an to keep your important data files fresh.