Although spyware has taken some of the limelight off the difficulties posed by viruses, viruses remain just as much of a threat as they always have. As such, you need to have a good real-time virus scanner. If you don't use Defender for spyware, look for a product that handles both viruses and spyware in one.
Step 6: Use a third party software firewall and a hardware firewall
With XP SP2, Microsoft started shipping a new software firewall that is a huge improvement over versions found in previous editions of Windows. However, for the best in protection, even this new firewall comes up short when compared with third party firewalls. Windows XP's firewall does monitor any traffic originating from your computer. Therefore, you could be spewing all kinds of problematic network traffic and Windows would not block any of it.
In addition to your software firewall, use a hardware firewall as well. Most corporate networks will have firewalls at the network perimeter, but even if you're in a small or one-person shop, hit your local big box store and pick up a Linksys firewall. Multiple layers of protection from outside threats is one of the best ways to protect yourself.
Step 7: Disable the Guest account
By default in a new Windows XP SP2 installation, the Guest account, which provides limited system access to anyone, is disabled. Verify that this is the case on your system by following these steps:
- Click the Start button.
- Right-click My Computer and, from the shortcut menu, choose Manage.
- When the Computer Management window opens, go to Local Users and Groups | Users.
- Verify that the Guest account is disabled by looking for an icon with an X in a red circle next to the name.