How do I... Secure Microsoft Windows XP Professional?
by Scott Lowe MCSE | September 7, 2010, 8:43am PDT | Image 1 of 19
By Scott Lowe
Even though Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows 7 have been out for a while and are available from just about anywhere, most organizations -- at least for the time being -- are sticking with the tried and true Windows XP.
By sticking with Windows XP, these organizations can continue to enjoy XP's stability and familiarity. However, XP users will not be able to take advantage of some of Vista's new security features, such as user access control. But there are a number of steps that can be taken to keep Windows XP running smoothly and securely.
The assumption is that you are using Windows XP Professional, although most of these steps will also work for the Home edition. Most of these steps assume that your Windows XP system is not joined to a domain or that you are in a very small workgroup. Further, although there are dozens of steps you can take to secure your Windows XP system; these 14 reasonable steps are designed to give you the most bang for your security buck.
By Scott Lowe - Image 1 of 19
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CAUTION when using 'Private Folders' and XP Encryption
I state the following words of caution from the perspective of one who has himself been burned by non-discretionary use of both Windows XP 'private folders' and folder encryption.
The things that make XP encryption great are, unfortunately, the same very things which make it a bit dangerous. That is, dangerous if the data you place and accumulate on your pc is of any value. I think it's safe to assume most people would answer such a question with, "duh".
With regard to answering the XP User Accounts setup and password entry question of "Make folders private?" with an affirmative mouse click, keep this in mind. If you should ever either forget your password or for any reason cannot access your pc via the standard Windows user account method, you can pretty much kiss everything on the pc residing in "Documents and Settings" goodbye. Sure, nobody can view or modify anything within these directories without logging in via the good, old fashioned method. But....in the event that someone is you, "...up the creek". I've found over a number of years it's USUALLY best just to answer the "Make folders private" question with a mouse click of negative intent.
Encrypting other directories and/or files via the manual Windows XP encryption method is basically the exact same thing. The only difference is the above mentioned user account encryption automatically decides which directories will be protected. The manual method just enables the user selection of those folders to be encrypted. I personally make solid use of the manual folder encryption method, primarily for things like password storage for online accounts, etc. Once again, just keep in mind the data can be snatched from your desperate keyboard molded fingers if you should ever lose access via the XP user login process.
In all fairness, it is possible to backup the XP encryption keys in case the unthinkable occurs. However, plan on some head scratching while discerning how this is to be performed, and then again when attempting to determine whether the disc in your hand containing the backed up keys is actually valid.
Sound advice for the novice folder and file encryption junkie.
I have been installing software such as Secunia psi to help users stay up to date with all these apps.
Good article, I downloaded the pdf version and will be sharing this with those that need to 'wake up' and keep it more secure.
Use a Router . . .
> "Do Not connect to raw internet"?
a small NAT, IPS, etc. Security router such as the Linksys/Cisco RVS4000
costs less than one year subscription to any of the Paid AV out there, especially if everyone in the house has a system
and will generally last longer than 1 year
I've had mine for almost 2
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