Windows XP and Spyware

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Securing Windows XP against Spyware

Windows XP is an operating system that is used by the vast majority of web surfers. It has had it's fair share of security problems and as such is targeted by spyware and virus programs far more often than other browsers like Firefox. However, if you are running Windows XP, there are a few measures you can take to help protect yourself from unwanted Spyware and Adware. Spyware programs are usually installed on your computer without your knowledge. These programs can subject you to unwanted advertisements in the form of popups and some can even take data from your computer that will allow the theft of your identity. Almost every computer that is connected to the internet has been attacked by these programs and the vast majority have fallen victim to one or more. Fortunately you can take a few steps to minimize the risk and keep these programs off your Windows XP based computer.

Most of these programs utilize security holes found in the Microsoft operating system and Internet Explorer browser to install themselves on your computer. So the first step is to ensure you have the latest security packages from Microsoft installed. You can set this up to automatically install during the night when you are not using your computer by setting this in the Automatic Updates section of your control panel or in the Security Center. The Security Center will only show up if you have applied Service Pack 2 for Windows XP to your system. If Service Pack 2 for Windows XP is not installed on your computer, then stop reading this now and go do it. You can tell the service pack version that is installed by right clicking on your My Computer Icon and selecting properties and looking at the System sections on the General Tab.

Service Pack 2 is very important if you want to protect your system from spyware as it has several built in functions to help you fight this battle. In service pack 2 there is an improved Windows Firewall that helps you combat whether these programs ever make it onto your system. This firewall gives you more control over the actions allowed to enter your system than the original Windows XP firewall and you will want to make sure it is set up correctly. Luckily Microsoft has built this firewall with simplicity in mind and it will protect most people with the default settings in place. The first time a program tries to access the internet you will receive a dialog box asking you if you want to allow the program to connect. Depending upon your answer a firewall rule will be written to allow or deny the access. Make sure you understand what the programís purpose is before you allow it to access the internet. If you are not sure, answer No to the access and investigate the source of the program.

This one tip can go along way in securing your computer against unwanted SpyWare installation, but there are also other methods you can use to help prevent your computer becoming infected with these programs. These other methods will be presented in a later article.

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