This is Dragon’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:
- Check your spyware protection through the Windows Security Center. If you’ve used Windows XP, then you already know about Windows Security Center, the all-in-one monitoring tool that helps you keep track of your firewall, automatic updates, and antivirus software. Windows Security Center for Windows Vista has more security categories. It now warns you if your antispyware software is not up and running like it should be.
- Keep Windows Vista up-to-date. Every platform always has things that doesn’t work the way it should, that errors are called bugs, and the only secure way to fix those bugs is keeping your operating system up to date. It is inevitable that additional bugs and security holes will be discovered over time. Once a security exploit has been made public, you can bet that hackers will be all over it. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of the patch management process. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because Windows Vista was designed to be secure that it doesn’t need to be frequently patched.
- Use the network profiles. Prior to the release of Windows Vista, Windows treated all network connections equally. In Vista, however, you can use the Network and Sharing Center to designate a network as public, private or a domain network. Networks are designated as domain networks automatically when the machine uses the network to log on to a domain. It is important to select an appropriate network profile because Windows implements various security features based on the type of network you’re connected to. For example, Vista disables the network mapping feature if you are connected to a public network. The Windows Firewall also contains network profile-specific settings.
- Use the 64-bit version of Windows Vista. The 64-bit version of Vista is far more secure than the 32-bit version. Why? Because the 64-bit version contains a security feature called “Address Space Layout Randomizer”, which causes a random offset to be applied when system files are loaded. This means that unlike the 32-bit version of Vista, system files are rarely located in the same memory location twice in a row. This randomization foils many of the exploits that are commonly used against Windows XP. Another security feature found only in the 64-bit version is “Data Execution Prevention”. This feature keeps executable code from running in certain areas of the system’s memory. The 32-bit version of Vista includes a less sophisticated version of this feature that is implemented through software, but the 64-bit version enforces Data Execution Prevention at the hardware level.
- Use AlertCon or another Gadget related to security on your Sidebar. Do you like to know what the general security posture of the Internet is? Internet Security Systems (ISS) provides an overall “barometer” of Internet-wide security issues. Like the DHS terror alert levels, ISS has a four-level Internet threat level meter called AlertCon that immediately alerts users when there is some type of large-scale worm or virus infestation or other such network-disrupting activity. This gadget displays the current AlertCon status from the ISS web site (www.iss.net). The status will auto-refresh every sixty minutes.My Top Picks for Vista Sidebar Gadgets related to security and helping you to monitor your computer security are: Terror Alert Level, AlertCon, Wireless Network Controller, Memory Meter and Network Activity.
Let me know what do you think about my Top 5 Windows Vista Security Tips. If you disagree with my top five or something is missing in my post, please feel free to express your ideas in the comments below, everybody will appreciate it.