Microsoft recommends that you only use products that sport the Designed for Microsoft Windows XP logo. That's because these products have been thoroughly tested for compatibility in the Windows Hardware Quality Labs.
As part of this procedure, drivers for hardware products receive a digital signature that indicates to the operating system that the driver is compatible and has not been altered since it passed the tests. When the driver is installed, Windows XP's Driver Signature Checking feature checks the driver for this digital signature.
If it detects an unsigned driver, Windows XP will display a warning dialog box alerting you that the driver has failed the signature check. However, this warning dialog box will also allow you to install the driver anyway. While in some cases an unsigned driver will work as well as a signed driver, that's not always the case.
As an administrator, you may not want your users to be able to install unsigned drivers on your Windows XP systems. Fortunately, you can bump up the Driver Signature Checking tool's verification level so Windows XP will completely block the installation of unsigned drivers.
Follow these steps to set driver verification levels:
- Press [Windows]Break to display the System Properties dialog box.
- Select the Hardware tab and click the Driver Signing button in the Drivers panel.
- Select the Block-Never Install Unsigned Driver Software button. (Verify that the Make This Action The System Default check box is selected.)
- Click OK twice.
Now you can feel confident that your users aren't installing unsigned drivers on your network.
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Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.