Security for the Windows operating system should begin with the basic system itself and the information you have associated with it
(your files and data).
Even before proceeding to the outside world of the Internet and being involved with the World Wide Web, e-mail and chat room messaging, you could say security starts at home.
The purpose of logging on is to allow your computer system to authenticate you as a valid user.
There are several steps required after you turn on your computer, before you gain access to your system.
After the system has started and is fully booted, you are required to Log On.
There are typically two log on modes.
This is the default log on mode. Just click on a user name icon to gain access to the system. If a password is associated with the selected account, you will be prompted to provide it.
If your system is not set up for multiple users or password access, you will be logged on automatically.
The Welcome Screen mode offers minimal or no log on security, it's simply a means by which the system maintains unique user environments (profiles).
The Welcome Screen exposes all user names and password hints, with just a few clicks. With this information a hacker can be well on his way to logging on.
With the Classic log On, after the computer boots up you are presented with the "Log onto Windows" dialog box. This guarantees the proper request for your user name and password.
For the Classic Log On to be used, the system has to be configured through the User Account applet of the Control Panel.
Select the "Change the way users log on or off" option of the User Accounts interface.
The classic log on method is secure because,
1. You must provide a valid user name.
2. You must provide a password (so this method of logging on is completely functional).
The basic building block of Window's security is the User Account or
Your identity to the system is via a User name and a Password (optional).
This in turn determines which resources of your computer system are available or have forbidden access to a particular user.
Sharing User Files:
When there are multiple users on a computer, each with its own user account or profile, each user account has its own separate Desktop and My Documents folder, as well as other system folders and files. You have the option of making these folders private, preventing others from having access to them.
You can refer to this as User File Security.
The Internet brings the world to our doorstep through the World Wide Web and messaging services like e-mail.
Connecting to these services brings along with it, undesirable intruders, which can gain access to your computer stored data and information without your knowledge of it occurring.
Being aware of these possible intrusions from hackers, identity thieves,
con artists, spammers, etc. enables you to take steps to prevent them from gaining access to your computer data.
You need to adopt a sense of wary scepticism.
One of the first and most important steps in maintaining a secure computer system is obtaining Security Updates. from the Microsoft web site.
You must be on line to access this information.
The Personal Firewall:
The Personal Firewall, is any hardware or software which protects the computer from harmful or unauthorized network (Internet) communications. They can be reconfigured to meet new threats.
The firewall blocks or allows packets of digital data according to a set of criteria called rules.
Any computer connected to the Internet needs firewall protection.
Windows XP comes with a software firewall known as Windows Firewall (originally called Internet Connection Firewall, or ICF).
Personal Firewall's may be purchased from McAfee, Norton, or others.
Freeware Firewall's are available from ZoneAlarm and Soft Perfect.
Browsers & Clients:
The security settings in your web browser, such as
Programs, Services & Processes:
Run only the programs you need.
Remove unnecessary software from your operating system.
If required later, they may easily be installed as required.
To remove an unnecessary burden to your system any "Services or "Processes's" that are not required should be disabled or removed.
This is best left to an experienced and knowledgeable person.
If you don't know or are not sure of the purpose of a "service" or "process" leave it set as is.
There are programs (applications) which are set to run when your system starts up. These are typically indicated by small icons down in the right hand corner of your task bar, in what is known as the Notification Area
These are the most potentially dangerous and disruptive security threats on the Internet. The only computer that is safe from hostile software is one that is unplugged and locked away.
Virus / Malware Protection:
The placement of malware on your system, primarily through your Internet browser and e-mail client (Outlook Express) has become one of the greatest problems, with respect to overall computer security.
This software can slow down your computer, destroy files, make your system in operable, collect critical information (such as passwords, account numbers, etc.) and pass it on to undisclosed locations ( a hackers site).
This has prompted security software suppliers such as AVG, Symantec, McAfee and ZoneAlarm to provide software which includes greater protection than originally provided.
For example ZoneAlarm now includes some Spam filtering with its free firewall (version 7.0.0337).
Similarly McAfee has expanded its latest version of Virus Scan and Security software, to include in addition to its extensive virus protection,
Click here for a detailed summary of the McAfee anti-virus software versions 7.2 & 11.2.
For McAfee's Total Protection Suite, additionally covering,
The Internet web browsers and e-mail clients are including more and more protection against un solicited intrusions all the time.
It goes without saying, all intrusion protection software, must be kept up to date to realize its complete effectiveness.
Spyware / Adware: