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Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 / SP2 Overview

Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 / SP2 Overview - PCSTATS
Abstract: Once your PC is updated with Windows XP Service Pack 2 there are a few things you'll need to know about its new features and security options.
Filed under: Operating System Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Microsoft Aug 17 2004   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Operating System > Microsoft Windows XP

A New Firewall for WinXP

Speaking of the firewall, it has received a major face lift. Instead of being relegated to an obscure button in the advanced properties of your Internet connection, it now has its own configuration Window, accessible from the control panel.

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As expected, the firewall is activated by default after the service pack is installed. More importantly, Microsoft has added screening for outbound connections to the firewall. This means that it can locate and block programs installed on your system that attempt to open ports so that other computers can connect to your system from the Internet.

Previously, Windows XP users had to resort to a third-party firewall program like Zonealarm in order to get this feature. By default, the Windows XP firewall will block programs that attempt to act as a server (allowing remote systems to connect to them over the Internet), while popping up a notification which allows the user to block or allow the connection.

Internet Explorer also benefits from a few new features. A pop-up ad blocker is now present and enabled by default. This feature suppresses pop-up ads unless you choose to view them, and can be configured to allow ads to appear. A second much needed feature is an ability to see any add-ons or plug-ins currently active in your copy of IE, and enable or disable them.

This will hopefully allow users an easy way to stop browser hijackers and other spyware that attach themselves to Internet Explorer. This is quite similar in function to the invaluable hijack-this utility that we recommend in PCSTATS.com's anti-spyware article. A good example of Microsoft adding necessary functions to their software.

More importantly, the security settings for IE have been tightened to prevent the unauthorized installation of potentially malicious software via the browser. By default, Internet Explorer will now block attempts to use ActiveX to install software, and bring up a notification informing you and allowing you to override the ban. Also new are restrictions to the form and location of new browser windows spawned by web pages. These are designed to stop pop-up ads from appearing off screen, or placing the title and menu bars off screen to fool the user or prevent them being closed.

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Contents of Article: Microsoft Windows XP
 Pg 1.  Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 / SP2 Overview
 Pg 2.  — A New Firewall for WinXP
 Pg 3.  Upgraded Outlook Express Security
 Pg 4.  Testing the Firewall Coverage
 Pg 5.  Controlling Add-ons in IE
 Pg 6.  Email Protection Increased
 Pg 7.  WindowsXP Service Pack 2 in use - The XP Firewall
 Pg 8.  Programs and the new Firewall
 Pg 9.  Windows Security System
 Pg 10.  Windows XP Service Pack 2 in use
 Pg 11.  Adjusting to Service Pack 2

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