How do I... Secure Microsoft Windows XP Professional?

The Windows XP Security Center.

Step 2: Don't run with an administrative account unless necessary
Administrative accounts are the keys to the city, as it were. Mistakes made when logged in as an account with administrative rights can have negative ramifications. For example, as you're browsing various Web sites, if you're running with administrative credentials, spyware can very easily be installed onto your system since there is no barrier between the site and your system.

To prevent, or at least reduce, "drive by" spyware installation and limit damage from viruses, perform your daily tasks as a non-administrative user and only log in as an administrator when you need to install software or perform some administrators-only operation.

Step 3: Apply updates on a regular basis, or use Automatic Update
Patches are a way of life these days. From correcting program crashes to shutting down zero-day exploits, the patch cycle has become integral to staying safe in the online computing world. There are a number of ways that you can go about keeping your system patches current. The easiest method is to make sure that the Automatic Updates feature is enabled.Follow these steps to check your Automatic Updates status:
  1. Go to Start | Control Panel.
  2. Choose Security Center.
  3. Make sure that the Automatic Updates option is set to On

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