MVP-HELP for Windows

...where you can have fun AND be secure


Windows Security Checklist (revised)

Posted on February 14, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Windows Security Checklist (revised)
By Larry Stevenson, aka Prince_Serendip - MVP Consumer Security
First Published: November 28, 2004
Revised and Updated: February 14, 2009


Firewalls and Antivirus Applications for Basic Protection

No one application nor technique can protect you at 100%, but you can get pretty close to that. When these guidelines are followed by Windows users, it can bring their chances of being infected by malware almost to zero. It is not as complicated as it may first appear, although there is a lot of information to absorb. If you have questions about any of these techniques and applications, the experts at SpywareHammer, and other reputeable security boards will be pleased to help you.


Your computer has 65,536 ports that can share information with the Internet or another computer. A good two-way firewall will monitor all outgoing and incoming traffic. It can alert you to anything out-of-the-ordinary, according to the rules or procedures you decide or ones already enabled by default. It can even close all of your ports at need. Put it at the highest level of security possible for your Internet zone. Set all programs to alert you for access (unless you despise popups like I do). You may also set programs you trust, and use frequently, to automatic (good idea). If you aren't sure about a program wanting access to or from your computer, you can deny it. Firewalls are an absolute must to prevent trojans, hacking attempts and to protect your private information.

Excellent Articles on Firewalls (see also the ElderGeek link below)

Personal Internet Firewalls that really work!

Firewalls and ZoneAlarm Guide and Tips

How Firewalls Work from HowStuffWorks

Firewalls You Can Use ZoneAlarm is newbie friendly. The Pro and Plus versions are paywares but it has a stripped-down, freeware version or Basic Firewall which provides optimum protection for most non-commercial purposes. (When you install it, you may need to avoid installing any extra toolbars. See below.) Sphinx Software provides firewalls for Windows Vista only, integrating all of your protections under one umbrella. Not free, but excellent.


Comodo Free Firewall and Antivirus is a nice basic package. It does the job and then some. (When you install it, you may need to avoid installing any extra toolbars.)

Online Armor comes highly recommended by Security Experts: It has a totally freeware version, firewall only.


**A word about extra toolbars. Some applications may supply a toolbar at install. Its search engine will cause targeted ads to be presented to you based upon the content of the web pages you visit, any personally identifiable information you have provided to them, or keywords appearing in your search queries. If you do not want these types of toolbars remove the checkmark in the box beside them during installation, or if you have gotten one try to remove it using Add/Remove Programs. If you are unable to remove a toolbar, please consult the experts at They will help you.

Antivirus Applications

Installing an anti-virus program on your system is the next most essential security measure that you need. When a virus (or trojan) is detected, the program will move the infected file to a quarantine area for disinfection or removal. This prevents the malware file from making contact with any other program. As long as you keep the virus data files up-to-date (check every day or have it setup to do it automatically), configuration is often simple and detection is reliable. Apply all updates and program patches as they are released. Most applications have these tasks automated or you can schedule them yourself.


Enabling the Heuristics feature is important but be aware that this can detect more false positives. This detects possible viruses. Most antivirus companies do provide file analysis should you be unsure if a file is infected or not. Set it to scan all e-mail attachments and downloads before they are opened. If there are settings for scans of ActiveX controls and Java for harmful content, use them. It is important to allow the program to create "clean boot" or "Rescue" disks, as you never know when you might need them for an infected system.


The essential difference between viruses and trojans is viruses propogate themselves while trojans need you to download them by clicking a link or by opening an infected email and/or attachment. Remember, no antivirus  application is ever 100% accurate. There may be times when your application will not remove a particular threat. If this happens, please come to SpywareHammer, and we will help you. We do it for free.

Free Antivirus Applications You Can Use


AVPE: Avira or AntiVir Personal Edition by H+BEDV Datentechnik, GMBH is free for non-commercial use, offering effective protection against computer viruses, dialers and trojans on individual or private workstations.


AVG Antivirus by Grisoft. After 10 years and millions of free downloads it has released a completely updated and improved AVG Free version of its industry leading AVG Anti-Virus software. It detects viruses and  trojans. AVG is fairly simple to use and you can never turn it off.


Last but not least, the default applications provided for Windows XP and Vista security have come a long ways from their beginnings. Both the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender provide good protection against today's Internet threats. For more info on the Windows Firewall (it's in plain English) go to:
For Windows Defender info can be found at


Best regards and always take care of your security!


This document is provided "AS-IS" without warranty, and confers no rights.

Categories: Security Articles