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Information Security Office

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Support Topics for Users

Windows XP Security Checklist

To immediately secure your Windows XP system, take the three steps below:

  1. Install anti-virus software
    If you don't have anti-virus software installed, you may leave your system vulnerable to viruses, Trojan horses, spam, and other intrusions. Students, faculty and staff can download anti-virus software from the BevoWare site. You should configure your software to scan regularly and set your virus definition (DAT) files to auto-update.

  2. Run the Windows Firewall to protect your machine against Internet attacks and random network scans.
    1. From the Start menu, open the Control Panel, and select Security Center.
    2. Click Windows Firewall.
    3. Select On.
    4. Select the Internet Connection Firewall checkbox.

  3. Run Windows Update and Enable Automatic Updates
    You should run Windows Update on your system or visit the Windows Update Web site to install all Critical and Recommended updates for your system, including Service Pack 3. ITS recommends that you also configure Windows XP to automatically update.

For increased security, you should also take the following steps:

Set strong passwords on all accounts
All users on the UT network are expected to choose strong passwords and guard them well. If someone else obtains your password, they can access your private data (including e-mail), alter or destroy your files and perform illegal or inappropriate activities in your name. To learn more about choosing strong passwords, visit the Password Dos and Don'ts topic.

Create a user account
Your administrator account allows you to install software, but using it all the time is dangerous because viruses and Trojan horses run from the administrator account can cause greater harm to your computer. Use the user account for your day-to-day activities.

Disable guest accounts
You should disable any guest accounts on your system as they can provide information to hackers and increase your security risk.

Download the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer
The Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) provides an easy and efficient way to identify common security misconfigurations on your Windows-based system. MBSA will scan your operating system and other installed components for common system misconfigurations and check for missing security updates. The ITS Web site has a tutorial on running the scan and fixing any problems.

Be careful when using peer-to-peer file sharing applications
Although peer-to-peer (P2P) applications such as Napster, Gnutella, iMesh, Audiogalaxy Satellite, and KaZaA, are a good way of sharing information, if you do not use them appropriately you may degrade the performance of the University’s network, unknowingly share your personal data, inadvertently violate federal copyright law, or expose your computer to malicious code or unacceptable use. Read What You Need to Know about Peer-to-Peer File-Sharing Applications.

Use secure file transfer
When transferring files over the Internet you should always use a secured connection. SSH and SFTP applications encrypt and protect your passwords and information. If you use Telnet or a non-secure FTP program, your information is sent in the clear for anyone to see. SSH and SFTP clients are available for download on the BevoWare site.


Last updated July 20, 2009.
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Send computing questions to the ITS Help Desk or call (512) 475-9400.


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