Windows XP Internet Security for Advanced Users

    December 17, 2003

Your computer keeps crashing and your internet connection is slow. Pop-ups are filling your desktop with messages that you don’t want. You need to take control and protect your internet connection before it’s too late.

You can’t afford to have a computer without any protection. Windows XP shipped with several advanced security tools to help users resolve these common problems. Internet security and protecting internet connections is critical. Fast connections and wireless access make users even more vulnerable. Nowadays, everyone has a wireless router in their home. If you want to protect your financial data and personal files, this article will help secure your desktop computer and share the security configuration with other computers.

The Home Office and IT Administration Nightmare

Home offices and small networks are becoming part everyone’s way of life. Even my grandmo a has Windows XP running connected to her DSL connection and a couple other computers for my cousins. These tools are a little hidden for the average user, that’s why it’s difficult for users to implement this. History shows that, if you get used to protecting your files it will pay off unless you want to wait until your credit card company calls you or all of a sudden your online banking account has been hacked.

There are two exceptional tools in Windows XP to protect your connections. Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) can protect your home and small office network with a simple click. This tool verifies all the communications from the outside world to your computer. It allows and denies communications based on your selection.

The Security Configuration Manager is a management tool used for creating and configuring security rules for your computer. It lets you review the your individual security settings, user rights to access the computer, perform a security anaylisi and save your security settings so that you can apply that to other computers.

Internet Connection Firewall

As its name explains, Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) creates an additional protection layer between the Internet and your computer. If you have a network, ICF is enabled on the Internet connection of the workstation that is connected directly to the Internet. All connections that originate from the Internet are stopped by this tool unless an explict instruction is given to allow the message to enter the network.

To Enable the Internet Connection Firewall:

1. Click Start, and then point to Settings.
2. Click Control Panel, and then double-click Network Connections.
3. Right click on the connection, and select Properties. Go to Advanced.
4. Select Protect my computer and network by limiting or preventing access to this computer from the Internet.

Fig 1. Enabling the Windows XP Professional Internet Connection Firewall.

Don’t enable ICF if you are currently using a firewall or proxy server in your network, or if you are not connected directly to the internet. You might loose the ability to share files, receive e-mails and connect to other internal computers. Also, be careful if you are running a software that requires automatic updates or special connectivity requirements because ICF will stop that connection.

Security Configuration Manager

The Microsoft Security Configuration Manager is a set of tools that you can use to configure security for your Windows XP Professional workstation. It also allows your to create periodic security tests to ensure that your system security configuration hasn’t been changed. Computer security profiles are provided as a point of reference to define your security requirements. Users can configure the templates with the Security Configuration and Analysis snap-in.

All security profiles are stored in the systemrootSecurityTemplates directory.

The most powerful feature is that once you configure a security profile you can apply it to other computers in your network by just using the Secedit.exe command or by importing the template with the Security Configuration and Analysis snap-in.

To Import a Security Template:

  • Click Start, and then point to Programs and select Administrative Tools..
  • Click Local Security Policy, and then right click under Security Settings.
  • Select Import Policy… and import the file.
  • Fig 2. Importing Security Policies on Windows XP Professional.

    Microsoft Windows XP provides tools that can automatically configure rules and prevent unauthorized access to individual computers. The Security Configuration Manager can save you a lot of time by copying security configurations between computers. To protect external connections, Internet Connection Firewall does a great job stoping connections from unwanted users. Use these tools and you will be safe with little effort.

    *Originally published at

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    Leonard Loro, MCSE, MCSD, ISS, MCT, CCNA, is a recognized e-Business specialist. His experience includes engaging, managing and implementing large consulting projects for government agencies and companies like Microsoft, Nissan as well as other Fortune 500’s. Leonard can be reached at