Keeping your personal information safe from online predators and your computer clear of viruses and malware is an ever growing concern for most people—at least anyone who uses a computer regularly. But because of the nature of contests sites, sweepstakers need to be sure to remain diligent in protecting themselves and their info.
Online sweepstakes can be a fun way to pass the time. But pop-up ads can make it rather annoying on certain sites. Pop-up blockers like Adblock and Adblock Plus for Firefox and Chrome work well. The only drawback is that these blockers may slow down the entry process on some sites because you may have to manually allow each site to load through the blocker program.
Your email address is required to enter many online sweepstakes. But you may be concerned about giving out your main email address to a bunch of sites. If so, then create an alternate address that doesn't include any personally identifiable info such as your initials, name or date of birth but is an address that you check often so you'll know if you've won a prize. I know some of you may use these things in your email address to make it easy to remember—and I've been guilty of the same—but you may want to save an identifiable email address for use with friends and family for safety's sake.
While I'd like to give every sweepstakes site the benefit of the doubt and assume malware won't come through their sites to my computer—it's simply not prudent to do so. It may not even be malicious intent on their part but the fault of an advertiser on their site. Malwarebytes is excellent freeware you can install and set up regular checks to detect and remove malware and other threats from your machine.
You should already have anti-virus software for your machines and make sure you're regularly installing Microsoft updates if you use a PC. But Microsoft Security Essentials is another good bit of freeware you can download to run scans on your computer that will detect most threats. It's easy to install and set up a regular schedule for scanning. Taking these small measures now to protect yourself will make your sweepstaking a much more pleasurable experience.