The Windows Security Center (WSC) is the brain and nervous system for Vista when it comes to security. Here, you can configure most (if not all) security functionality for the client system. In addition, it monitors your running systems and recommends ways to help mitigate risk and solve security-related issues.
The WSC, which debuted in Windows XP SP2, has been updated with new features, tools, and functionality. With it, you can centrally control a personal firewall application, and make sure the OS and your antivirus software are up-to-date.
In the WSC, you can configure four main security areas: the Windows Firewall, Automatic Updates, Windows malware protection, and other security settings, including Internet Explorer security settings.
The updated Windows Firewall now scans traffic bidirectionally. Previous versions scanned in only a single direction.
Once your firewall is configured, you need to update it only if you want to restrict or allow access to new programs, or if you want to change settings. You can turn on automatic updating in the WSC, which will allow Windows to monitor and download updates for you.
The Malicious Software Removal Tool can help you to remove malware from your OS and is usually downloaded via Windows Update.
User Account Control prevents unauthorized changes from taking place. Another level of security applied to the defense in depth model, UAC will warn you whenever Windows needs your permission to continue with the use of a program or other application.
The Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) is a freely downloadable tool from Microsoft. It is designed for IT professionals who need to check the security settings on host computers.
Windows Defender provides continuous security against malware. If it detects anything suspicious, it will alert you of what it finds.
Windows Defender is composed of three separate agents. Internet agents are used to monitor changes to Internet access settings, as well as to stop unauthorized connection attempts via the network. System agents are used to monitor changes to your systems settings, such as passwords and permissions. Application agents are used to monitor changes to applications installed on your OS, such as Internet Explorer being modified by downloadable toolbar applications.
Windows Defender is used locally to protect an end users Web browsing experience. Windows Defender does not include enterprise management tools.
Windows Defender features an updated scanning engine, simplified alerting functionality, multiple-language support, and other enhancements.
Changing how a program runs on your computer, such as blocking Internet or network connections and ending processes, can cause problems with Windows and other programs that you use. Use Software Explorer to change how a program runs on your computer only if you are certain the program is causing a problem. Once you open Software Explorer, you can select which category of programs you want to view or adjust.
Microsoft SpyNet is the network of Windows Defender users that helps determine which programs are classified as spyware.
SpyNet builds known signature files for commonly seen malware and finds malware that is new to the scene. It is recommended that you visit SpyNet to get acclimated with the site and the benefits it offers, and that you check back often for updates.