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  Guide to Windows Online Security & Privacy

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Making your Windows OS more secure and improving your privacy online can become an awkward process given the number of things that can be done to improve it.

In this guide we will cover many of such known solutions for various popular applications which should make your system more secure and less prone to viruses. The guide has been prepared with Windows 2000 and XP users in mind, however a lot of the stuff contained here can be also applied to earlier versions of the OS, in addition to Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.

 

Update, Update, Update

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to apply patches to your system, particularly in the case of Windows itself and Internet Explorer (most certainly if itís your default browser) which has security holes found, usually patched soon afterwards.

A complete listing for Windows 98 SE, ME, 2000 and XP versions can be found on our OS Updates page.

Another extremely worthwhile download would be PivX Qwik-Fix, which adds further protection against various Windows/Internet Explorer vulnerabilities. Certainly if Internet Explorer is your browser of choice it will be worth getting.

If youíre using Windows 2000 or XP, Microsoft has an extremely useful utility available that can scan your system for potential vulnerabilities and updates as well, called Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer. We even have a guide for using that right here.

 

Physically securing the PC

Often when it comes to security, the most obvious things are the ones most easily overlooked (hence why Iíll get this out of the way first). If your PC is located in an environment where other people may have access to it, e.g. office, then it would be worth taking a few precautions in order to ensure they canít access your system unless authorised to do so Ė After all, itís far easier to compromise a system if you can physically get to it, rather than remotely.

Two steps to secure the PC in this case would be:

BIOS Password In most modern BIOSí there should be a setting entitled Security Option, with options available being System or Setup. Selecting System will set the PC to prompt you for a password whenever the PC is booted up, with the incorrect password being entered resulting in the system not loading. Selecting Setup sets the PC to prompt you for a password whenever you attempt to enter the BIOS, with the incorrect password being entered resulting in the BIOS not being accessible. There should also be a corresponding Set Password option to enter in the password that is required to be entered to load the system/BIOS.

Lock Windows If you are using 2000/XP it is possible to lock the Operating System, a good idea if youíve to go somewhere else temporarily Ė this way no-one should be able to access the system, nor should you have the hassle of needing to restart the PC or reload/save any work you were doing Ė it can be locked as is.
To do so simply press the Windows key + L simultaneously or CTRL-ALT-DEL simultaneously and select Lock Computer. To unlock the OS simply press CTRL-ALT-DEL simultaneously and enter your login details.

Windows can also be set to lock the system automatically after a period of inactivity. Right click on the desktop and select Properties, then the Screen Saver tab.

Ticking the option ĎOn resume, password protectí will lock the OS whenever the screen saver becomes active, should you use one. This is a further refinement to purposely locking your PC, just in case you happen to leave the system unattended for longer than you were expecting.

 



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