Securing Windows XP
Posted by cotojo on May 30, 2007
With its default configurations, Windows XP is not very
secure. However, by making some simple changes,
you can secure your system and data from attackers and
Keeping your system up-to-date is crucial to maintaining
security. Microsoft releases security updates and makes them
available for download on the Windows Update web site.
Using the Automatic Updates feature, Windows XP can be
configured to download and install updates for you
automatically at a time that suits you.
Scheduling this task is very simple. In Windows XP, use
the following steps to enable this feature:
1. Right click My Computer and select Properties.
2. Click the Automatic Updates tab from the System
3. Select the option to Automatically download the
updates, and install them on the schedule that I specify.
4. Select the day and the time when you want the updates
5. Click Ok.
Windows XP includes the Internet Connection Firewall
service. In Windows XP Service Pack 2, the ICF
is renamed to Windows Firewall and it is enabled by
default. It is designed to protect your computer from
intruders while it is connected to the Internet.
Note: if you are setting up a home network, do not enable
Windows Firewall on your LAN (Local Area Network)
Only enable it on the Internet connection. If you enable
it on your LAN connection, it will block File and Printer
If you are using Zone Alarm Free Firewall DO NOT enable
the Windows Firewall.
Windows XP includes various built-in user accounts. There
are certain steps that you should take to ensure they are
Disable the Guest Account. The guest account has always
been a huge hacker hole and should remain disabled if it is
Require passwords for all user accounts.
Obviously, blank passwords are a bad idea if you care
Make sure you assign passwords to all accounts, especially
the Administrator account and any accounts with
All passwords should be a minimum of eight characters in
In Windows XP Home Edition all user accounts have
administrative privileges and no password by default.
Make sure you close this hole as soon as possible.
Rename the Administrator account. By renaming the
administrator account hackers will have to guess
the password and the name assigned to the account.
Don’t make it easy for hackers, renaming the Administrator
account will stop some hackers in their tracks, and will
deter the more determined ones. They won’t know what the
group permissions are for an account, so they’ll try to hack
any account they find and then try to hack other accounts to
improve their access.
If you rename the Administrator account, try not to use the
word Admin in its name. Pick something that won’t make it
easy for others to guess.
Windows XP Professional’s Remote Desktop allows users to
connect remotely to your computer.
Although it can be useful for obtaining remote assist with
troubleshooting problems, it is also an open door for
Remote Desktop should always be disabled and only enabled
when it is needed.
To disable Remote Desktop right click on My Computer,
select properties then click on the Remote tab and untick
the check box beside Allow Remote Assistance invitations to
be sent from this computer
Anti-virus software is a program designed specifically to
detect and remove viruses, making it an essential
application to install. Once you install anti-virus software,
it will scan your computer and clean any viruses it finds.
Some of the more popular antivirus software programs are
listed below, though I refuse to pay for these as mentioned
below you can get the same protection for free.
1. Trend Micro
5. Computer Associates
6. Panda Software
Most anti-virus software must be purchased or it may be
included with the purchase of a new computer for a limited
I highly recommend the use of AVG-AntiVirus available from
I have covered this with a tutorial at
Important note: DO NOT use more than ONE anti-virus program
on your pc as this will cause conflicts.
I prefer to use AVG which scans daily and also runs in the
background continuously. On a monthly basis I use Trend
Micro housecall online.
Ok, so you are sitting at your desk, or left it for a
while and suddenly, a nice image appears on your screen.
Ok it’s your screensaver. However, screensavers can serve a
much more important purpose other than providing us some cool
images, and preventing screen burn. Enabling a screensaver
can increase the security on your computer.
Use a password protected screensaver, this stops others from
accessing your computer.
You can configure a screensaver to start when your
computer has been idle for a specific amount of time (eg: 5
minutes). By password protecting the screensaver, the
computer is locked when the screensaver starts. This is a simple
idea for additional security. You will need to enter the correct
password to resume using your pc.
So once a password protected screensaver has been enabled,
you can walk away from your computer knowing that
everything is secure. In Windows XP, you can use the steps
outlined below to enable a password protected screensaver.
1. Right click a blank area on your your desktop and click
2. From the Display Properties dialog box, select the
3. Use the drop down arrow to select your screensaver of
4. Change the Wait value to specify how long the computer
can remain idle before the screensaver is started.
5. Select the On resume, password protect option. If you
do not select this option any activity will cause the
desktop to appear.
Give your pc a quick tune-up at http://pcpitstop.com
Run the Full Tests from the menu on the left of the page
after creating a user account and password.
Go to http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html
The Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your
installed software and hardware, missing Microsoft hotfixes,
anti-virus status, CIS (Center for Internet Security) benchmarks,
and displays the results in your Web browser.
All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC
and is not sent to any web server.
I would recommend that you print off the results page as it
contains details of your Drivers and Software License Keys, useful
if you have to perform a format.
Scan for any viruses at http://housecall.trendmicro.com/
Check to see if your ports are Open, Closed or in Stealth mode at
Check your internet connection speed at
Click the green arrow beside the flag on the top right of the
header and select your language. Scroll down to Speedometer and
click on Test Now.
Remember to always back-up your system or create a restore point
before making any changes.
Safe surfing everyone
This entry was posted on May 30, 2007 at 11:41 am and is filed under Free Tools, freeware, how to, PC Security, Security. Tagged: Administrator Account, anti-virus, Applications, AVG, AVG Anti-Virus, belarc advisor, beltronica, browser, business, communication, computers, cookies, firewall, Free, Free Tools, freeware, grc, Guest Account, housecall, how to, IE, information, intelligent explorer, Internet, internet explorer, LAN, login, malicious, online, operating system, P2P, passwords, patches, PC's, pcpitstop, personal information, privacy, private, program, Properties, protected, Protection, Remote Desktop, Safeguard, safety, screensavers, Security, security patches, software, spyware, Stealth, surfing, threats, Tools, trend micro, trojan, trojans, tutorial, User Accounts, virus, Web, windows, Windows XP, XoftSpy, ZoneAlarm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.