Modern dangers don't lurk just in dark alleys, earthquake zones, or the moldy containers in your refrigerator. As computers have become linked in a global network, every connected PC has become exposed to a whole host of threats—viruses, worms, scammers and hackers, to name just a few.
While Microsoft hasn't exactly earned a reputation for prioritizing security, Windows XP offers a number of ways you can safeguard your PC from prying eyes and other potential dangers. This chapter explains how to implement a thorough security check; how to safely share files and folders with others; and how to make sure your data doesn't fall into the wrong hands.
You may want to be generous and share files on your PC with others, but doing so can expose your computer to various security risks. This section offers hints on striking a balance so you can share in the benefits of a networked world while keeping your PC safe.
Here's a trick few people know: Microsoft's Baseline Security Adviser, a free software download, can scan your computer for possible security holes and suggest how to fix them. Among other things, the software checks whether you have the most current security updates from Microsoft, whether you have security updates installed for the Windows Media Player, whether you have any Internet vulnerabilities, and other similar information. (For more on Windows security updates, see Sidebar 12-1.)
When installing ...