Setting Windows Vista security settings

To ensure your computer is taking full advantage of Vista’s security features, use the Windows Security Center to check your computer’s settings.

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. Click Classic View (in the left-hand column if it is not already selected).
  4. Double-click Security Center. All options should be turned on—indicated by green—as shown in the following graphic:
  5. security center window

    IMPORTANT NOTE
    If the Malware protection option has a yellow or red background and the radio button indicates that you need to check the settings, click the downward pointing arrow button. If these settings indicate that virus protection is not found, you must first install the free version of McAfee Anti-Virus software. Then repeat steps 1-4 above to confirm that the software was installed and is working properly. You will see the statement McAfee VirusScan Enterprise reports that it is up to date and virus scanning is on if the software is operational.

  6. If any of the options are turned off, leave the Windows Security Center window open and follow the instructions below to change the appropriate option.

Activating the Windows Vista firewall

A firewall protects your computer from Internet worms that exploit open ports and operating system vulnerabilities. Only one firewall should be active on a computer. If the Windows Security Center reports that your firewall is off, turn it on following these steps:

  1. Click Windows Firewall in the left column of the Windows Security Center window. 
  2. If the firewall is turned off, follow these steps:
    1. Click Change settings.
    2. When prompted by User Account Control, click Continue.
    3. On the General tab, confirm On (Recommended) is selected.
    4. Click the Advanced tab.
    5. Place a check mark beside all the connections to enable the Windows Firewall for each.
    6. Click OK.
    7. Close the window.

Turning on automatic updates

To ensure your computer always has the most up-to-date critical updates from Microsoft, enable the Automatic Updates feature using these steps:

  1. Click Windows Update in the left-side panel of the Security Center window.
  2. Click Change Settings.
  3. Choose the setting for Install updates automatically (recommended).
  4. Click OK.
  5. When the User Account Control window appears, click Continue.
  6. If you are connected to a network, Vista will check for updates.
  7. If updates are available, choose to install them.

Enabling Windows Defender

To help ensure your computer remains free of malware, enable Windows Defender following these steps:

  1. Click Windows Defender in the left-side panel of the Security Center window.
  2. Click Tools (near the top of the window).
  3. Click Options.
  4. Make sure the box is checked beside each of the following:

    • Automatically scan my computer (recommended)
    • Check for updated definitions
    • Apply default actions to items detected

  5. Click Save.
  6. When the User Account Control window appears, click Continue.
  7. Click the Scan button at the top of the window to scan for malware.