In the mad panic before Christmas, consumers are being urged not to neglect their computers.

Consumers have spent up to £750,000 online in a single minute in the UK already over the Christmas period, and are set to break this figure during the online rush over the January sales season.

But Brian Grayek, VP of Threat Research for CA, formerly Computer Associates, warns that it only takes 20 seconds for a computer to be infected with viruses and malicious software.

He has issued a list of "New Year’s resolutions" for computer owners.

These include installing an up-to-date Internet Security Suite from an established brand with anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing, anti-spam and firewall.

He continues: "Let anti-spam software filter and rate your unknown messages for you – and don’t click on links or download attachments in emails".

Owners are urged to be wary of product discount offers coming straight to your in-box because some spam is eluding filters because the text is embedded in an image file.

Social networking site users are said to be particularly at risk "since the number of possible victims is large and the average knowledge of computer security is quite low".

Grayek says: "Be sure not to provide financial or sensitive information if asked. Surprisingly, 74% of social networkers have given out personal information(email, name, birthday even National Insurance details) on these sites".

Finally, Gamers are being encouraged to protect their "virtual money".