The Windows Vista Security Center

The Windows Security Center has been improved in Windows Vista. The Security Center more closely resembles a large panel of On switches than a command post. It lists Windows Vista’s four main defenses, tells you whether they’re activated, and provides handy “On” switches to activate any that may be turned off.

Shown in the following figure, the Security Center shows whether you’ve turned on Windows Firewall, Microsoft’s Automatic Updates feature, Malware protection against viruses and spyware, and other security settings like the ones in Internet Explorer and Vista’s new User Account Control.

Turn on your computer’s main defenses in the Security Center.
Turn on your computer’s main defenses in the Security Center.

To make sure that your computer’s big cannons are loaded and pointing in the right direction, open the Security Center, then open the Start menu’s Control Panel, choose Security, and then choose Security Center.

The Security Center, shown in the previous figure, hops into action and displays your computer’s current security status in these four categories:

If the Security Center says that it’s been disabled, click Turn on Security Center.

  • Firewall: Windows Vista’s updated, more powerful firewall monitors every connection arriving at your PC.

  • Automatic Updating: When turned on, Windows Update automatically checks in with Microsoft through the Internet, downloads any new safety patches, and installs them, all for free, and all without any effort on your part.

  • Malware protection: Vista’s Malware protection contains two parts: Virus protection and Spyware protection.

  • Other Security Settings: This category covers security settings for both Internet Explorer and Vista’s User Account Control.

Click the Turn On Now or Restore Settings button to fix any potential security problems. Whenever the Security Center notices that one of Vista’s defenses is turned off, it alerts you by placing a red-shield icon near your taskbar’s clock.

Click any item with a red-shield icon or that says Check Settings to reveal the Turn On Now or Restore Settings button.

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