Tighten Microsoft Windows to Improve Security

Windows has security holes. Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (released in August 2004) is much more secure than Windows XP-SP1, XP, 2000, ME, 98 or 95. For an introduction to Internet security for home and SOHO end users, see our Overview page. For this week's top Internet security and privacy topics, see our Newsletter page.
  • Upgrade to Windows XP Service Pack 2. Turn on automatic updates and turn on the Windows firewall (until you replace it with a better one). Turn off file and printer sharing if you do not use these features. If you want or need to do a clean install, see our Installation page.
  • Replace Internet Explorer with Firefox and Outlook Express with a more secure email client like Thunderbird. Also consider signing up with an ISP and/or email service that provides online spam, virus and content filters for two levels of protection, see our Broadband and Secure Website & Email Hosting pages.
  • Turn off the Windows XP firewall and replace it with software and hardware firewalls for two levels of protection, see our firewall software, wired and wireless router pages. Be sure to test them after installation, see our testing page.
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Also consider using anti-trojan, anti-spam, anti-phishing and privacy software. Turn on automatic updating and/or check for updates of malware definition files yourself at least once a week.
  • Tighten Windows Checklist for Securing Windows XP Pro, Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Lab
    TomCat's Secure Your Home Computer
    Securing Windows XP, Wall & Vaughan, TweakHound
    Windows XP Security Checklist, LabMice.net
    Consider using a product like the Computer Security Tool to help you tighten Windows (trial version available).
  • Backup your files at least weekly including documents, music, photos...
  • If you are using a dial-up Internet connection, consider moving to DSL or cable to make it easier and faster to use the automatic update features of Windows, anti-virus, and other security and privacy software.

Thank for Home PC Firewall Guide.


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