How To: Managing Security Settings in Microsoft Vista


You can use Vista’s Windows Security Center to check your computer’s settings and to ensure that your computer’s security settings are enabled.

To set Vista’s security settings:

  1. Click Start > Control Panel.
  2. Click Classic View in the left-hand column if it is not already selected.
  3. Double-click Security Center. All options should be turned on and be green.
    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 arrow button. If these settings indicate that virus protection is not found, you must first install the free version of McAfee Anti-Virus software. You will see the following message: McAfee VirusScan Enterprise reports that it is up to date and virus scanning is on if the software is operational.
  4. If any of the options are turned off, 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 you 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. Click Change settings.
  3. When prompted by User Account Control, click Continue.
  4. On the General tab, confirm On (Recommended) is selected.
  5. Click the Advanced tab.
  6. Select the checkbox beside all the connections to enable the Windows Firewall for each.
  7. Click OK, and 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 by following these steps:

  1. Click Windows Update in the left-side panel of the Windows 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. If you are connected to a network, Vista checks for updates.
  6. If updates are available, install them.

Enabling Windows Defender

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

  1. Click Windows Defender in the left-side panel of the Windows Security Center window.
  2. Click Tools near the top of the window.
  3. Click Options.
  4. Make sure the checkbox is selected for the following options:
    • Automatically scan my computer (recommended)
    • Check for updated definitions
    • Apply default actions to items detected
  1. Click Save.
  2. When the User Account Control window appears, click Continue.
  3. Click Scan at the top of the window to scan for malware.
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Jared Howe

Jared Howe is PRIVATE WiFi’s Senior Manager, Product Marketing Communications. Working in high tech for over 15 years, Jared currently lives in Seattle with his wife, daughter, and their two cats.

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