Microsoft first released its Windows XP operating system in 2001. It has since been replaced with newer version of Windows, but the XP version is still widely used. Hackers, viruses and other computer-based security threats put your Windows XP computer at risk. Defend your computer's data and your personal safety and privacy by implementing these safeguarding strategies and tips.
Get Windows Updates
Download and install the latest security patches and updates to Windows XP. Microsoft's technicians regularly release software patches that resolve common security holes and other problems that may make your system susceptible. Click the "Start" menu in the lower left corner of Windows and select "Windows Update."
Activate XP's Firewall
A firewall blocks unwanted Internet traffic and is your computer's first defense against hackers. Windows XP has a built-in firewall. Activate it by clicking "Start" and choosing "Control Panel." Select "Security Center" to review and turn on the Windows Firewall.
Run Anti-virus Software
Keep anti-virus software running on your PC at all times. Free and paid programs are widely available and scan your computer's files and all incoming data, like email attachments, for viruses that may infect your computer and corrupt or delete data.
Install Anti-Malware Programs
Malware like spyware and adware rarely cause actual data loss, but they do spy on your computer usage and compromise your privacy. These programs often masquerade as legitimate software. Install anti-spyware and anti-adware programs to regularly scan your PC to identify and remove such software.
Employ Good Email Strategies
Never open email attachments that look suspicious. This includes files that you never asked for, and files with strange names or from unknown senders.
Keep Software Updated
Even if your copy of Windows XP is kept up to date, outdated third-party programs can represent a security risk. This is especially true if these programs access the Internet, such as browsers and email clients. Keep all your software updated at all times, as updates typically close up security holes.
Review the Browser Bar
When you're accessing sensitive information online through your Windows XP browser, check the browser bar. All modern browsers display a padlock icon if the connection is secure. Secure sites should also start with "https://" instead of "http://." Never enter passwords and other sensitive information into unsecured websites.
Uninstall Unneeded Software
Unneeded applications take up space on your computer, may create software conflicts with other programs and can represent a risk of becoming a security problem. Uninstall everything you don't need to keep your Windows XP machine running smoothly.
Not only can pop-ups be a nuisance when you're surfing the web, but they can sometimes try to make you download viruses, spyware and other unwanted programs. Block them to prevent such security risks. In Internet Explorer, click "Tools" in the top menu bar and choose "Turn On Pop-Up Blocker" from the drop-down menu.
Back Up Your Data
Even the best-guarded Windows XP machine can occasionally fall to a security threat. Certain threats, like viruses, can compromise and destroy your computer files. Make regular backups to keep your data secure even if your PC crashes. Back up files onto CDs, DVDs, flash drives, external hard drives or the many online backup services available to Windows users.
- "Windows XP Professional Security"; Chris Weber and Gary Bahadur; 2002
- Microsoft: Windows XP Security and Privacy
- Microsoft Security: 4 Steps to Protect Your Computer
- Microsoft: Online Safety & Privacy Education
- computer image by Orlando Florin Rosu from Fotolia.com