Microsoft Windows Security
Microsoft Windows Security Applications
When you surf the Internet, view your mails, or download any software, your Windows PC may be becoming vulnerable.
Today, computer security is a very important area of discussion, with the advent of malicious programs like Spyware and Adware, besides viruses and Trojan horses. This article introduces you to some of the built-in security applications of recent versions of Microsoft Windows. The article is more relevant for the versions of Windows since XP.
Microsoft Windows has long been regarded as substandard in terms of security. There are more secure operating systems than Windows in the Linux and Mac OS families. However, the extreme popularity of Windows makes it important to invest a lot in securing this OS. Nevertheless, Windows Vista is a far more secure operating system than the traditional Windows, with several added security applications, some of which are available also for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Here are the security applications and settings coming with Vista.
1. Windows Update
Windows Update comes with all versions of Windows and gives an automated interface for downloading the OS updates. Make sure your Windows Update service is turned on always. Security patches form an important part of regular updates rolled out by Microsoft. You don’t want to miss any of these patches. With Update service turned on, the OS downloads and installs updates periodically without user intervention. You can turn on the Update service from Control Panel or from Windows Security Center.
2. Microsoft Windows Security Center
Microsoft, since the XP version of Windows, has started rolling out a special all-in-one security status reporting application called Windows Security Center. It gives updates about the running firewall, antivirus/antispyware applications, and automatic updates.
The security center is usually present as a shield icon on the bottom right-hand side of the taskbar, the system tray. The security center settings can be updated within the settings panel. The following are the third-party security providers compatible with Windows Security Center:
3. Windows Firewall
Windows has a built-in firewall that is capable of blocking most of the normal attacks on PC. Remote connections to your PC go through this service before they can connect to any running programs. Hence, if you activate the firewall, you will get notifications about any unauthorized Internet connection activities by any running programs in the system.
If you don’t wish to use the built-in firewall and would like to have a third-party tool for the purpose, try security suites by companies like Norton, ESET, or Kaspersky, which have been rated as good security providers.
4. Windows Defender
Windows has no built-in antivirus at this time, but there is an antispyware application called Windows Defender, delivered with the latest versions.
Windows Defender gives real-time protection against spyware and safeguards from pop-ups and slow performance, both of which may be the result of a spyware infection. Defender is available with all editions of Windows Vista, and it can be downloaded as a standalone application for Windows XP SP2 or later and Windows Server 2003 SP1 or later.
5. Parental Controls
Windows Vista has built-in parental controls in these editions: Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate. It is accessible from the User Accounts and Family Safety applet in Control Panel.
Parental Controls lets parents decide which games, websites, or programs their children can use and gives reports about their activities in the system.
If you are still not satisfied by these built-in security applications, you may install a third-party tool for complete system security. Microsoft itself has come up with Windows Live OneCare, which is a complete security suite featuring antivirus, antispyware program, and firewall; this suite is available for free trial before purchase. For third-party security tool reviews, please check some professional online reviewers of PC software, such as CNET, PC Magazine, PC World, etc.
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