Copyright © 1999 - 2006, Sandra Hardmeier, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
Last updated 20/08/2006

The 10 immutable laws of security


1.    Stay informed

When it comes to malware and viruses, prevention is far better than cure because some infections can be extremely hard to remove.  Although we can download and install various protective softwares to minimize the risk to our computers, knowledge is the ultimate weapon.


Visit on a regular basis to check for the latest in the ongoing battle between Microsoft and those who would hijack your browser, or take over your computer.

Keep an eye on the Microsoft Spyware information site:


Sign up with the Microsoft Security Notification Service or subscribe to the RSS Security Bulletin feed


Visit the Internet Explorer community regularly:

2.  Keep your computer up to date

Use Windows Update and, if relevant, Office Update, regularly.  Download and install all critical patches relevant to your computer, ESPECIALLY those related to Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.

Enable Automatic Updates.

3.  Use a firewall

Windows XP has a firewall - turn it on!



The XP firewall cannot be considered to be equivalent to products such as ZoneAlarm and Kerio. If your computer is infected, the XP firewall may NOT stop your computer from sending data OUT.  Until things improve I must suggest that a third party firewall be used.


I also recommend that you leave the Windows Firewall enabled, even if you have a third party product installed.  This is because Windows Firewall includes boot time protection - protection during that short period of time between when the network starts and a third party firewall fires up.  Your third party firewall may not have the same ability.


Even if you don't have XP there are various free firewalls available, including ZoneAlarm, Kerio Personal Firewall and Sygate.  Select the one that best suits you according to your level of experience and knowledge, and start using it.

4.  Use an antivirus programme and keep it up to date

There is a free one available from

5.  Use an anti-spyware product and keep it up to date

The Spyware Warrior web site hosts a comprehensive comparison of anti-spyware products which I think you will find very useful when deciding what product to use:

The end result of all this analysis is a list of “trustworthy” products:

Spywarewarrior also hosts a comprehensive list of rouge or suspect anti-spyware products (products that are of “unknown, questionable or dubious value”):


Randy Knobloch, Microsoft MVP (aka Siljaline), works hard to keep people informed about the latest updates for various anti-spyware products.  Keep an eye on his site for downloads relevant to software you have installed.  Randy's personal blog is at and his info-posts can also be found at Security Tools Updates.

6.  Internet Explorer

 Security Warning Dialog


6.  Outlook Express

7.    Windows XP


By now, all XP users should be running Service Pack 2.  If not, I strongly recommend that you download and install it.  It will go a long way towards making your computer more secure, and protecting you from the seedier side of the internet.  Developers and those who own web sites may like to review the following document:


XPSP2 is being distributed already installed on some new computers, via Windows Update, or can be ordered on CD.  The URL for ordering XP SP2 is:


If you do not have broadband internet access, or if you have to pay by the byte for downloads, or you do not want to have to wait 4 - 6 weeks for the CD to arrive, several computer magazines distribute XP SP2 on their sampler CDs, so check out your local newsagent.


Unfortunately, Windows XP automatically gives user accounts full administrative rights. Create a 'limited user' account and use that account for all internet surfing and general computer usage. Only use an Administrator account if you wish to install software, or you have a programme that will only work properly under administrator. If you have only one account, do NOT set that account as 'limited user'. Create a new one especially for the purpose. Password protect your Administrator account. Write down the password on a sticker and, to ensure you don't lose it, do what I do - affix the sticker to the INSIDE of your computer case cover.


Windows XP SP2 includes many improvements including: