Lots of media comment in the past week about how Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP still has holes in it from a security point of view. Most such reports I’ve seen comment on network security issues and further flaws in Internet Explorer security. Microsoft don’t agree with much of the negative comment.
I’ve been running SP2 since its release earlier this month, and have encountered no security or other major issues at all. If you run Windows XP, home or pro versions, you should definitely upgrade to SP2 (see my earlier post with comment on this).
Even with the improved security that SP2 delivers, there are further things you should do to protect your computing environment, especially if you travel and connect to different networks.
Robert Scoble, the high-profile Microsoft blogger, has put together a very useful list describing the steps he takes. I’d recommend every one of them, too, although some of them may be difficult for a home user to implement.
Interestingly, although Robert works for Microsoft, he makes recommendations for using a firewall other than the firewall that comes with SP2 and which is now turned on by default. I agree – it just doesn’t provide sufficient peace of mind (although it is better than no firewall at all). Personally, I like Zone Alarm, the one I use.
But while a software firewall is good, I wouldn’t rely just on that, a key point Robert makes. In my home office environment, I also have the hardware firewall in my broadband gateway/router which protects the wired and wireless PCs on my home network including one laptop I use to connect with my office network via VPN.