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You can also elect to “notify antivirus programs when opening attachments,” using these new SP2-specific entries. There’s more and better security information for users, so that when faced with a trust decision, the user is more likely to take an action that preserves his or her privacy and security.
Windows XP SP2 significantly changes the default behavior of Web pages with Active X scripts and other executable code to advise the user of possible risks.
In addition to the obvious-to-some basics, such as information on recommended security essentials (in short: use a firewall, install critical updates, and keep antivirus software up to date), the new Security Center Control Panel explains less obvious details, such as why—and, in brief, how—security settings on corporate computers are managed by a network administrator when the computer is part of a domain.
Incidentally, the red “alert” shield that appears by default in the system tray when an unrecognized anti-virus package is used, automatic updates are disabled or the firewall is turned off, can be reconfigured or disabled, if you wish.
Be sure to check out the IT Pro Portal on Tech Net, where these guides will help you get started.
The good news is: this service pack has already been tested by literally hundreds of thousands of beta testers, in a vast array of hardware and software environments, and the feedback and fixes incorporated into the final release.
There, you’ll find a link on the left under "Resources" that says "Change the way Security Center alerts me." Uncheck the appropriate alert type.
In short, the new firewall is advanced enough to easily allow you to custom-configure open ports for UDP traffic, instant messaging and the like, but secure enough (and turned on by default) to block common attack vectors.
In our tests, the Windows XP SP2 Firewall passed the Shields Up test at with a perfect “Tru Stealth” rating.
Not a single packet – solicited or otherwise – was received from Tech Net’s Windows XP SP2-updated test system as a result of GRC’s security probing tests.
See GRC for details on how these tests work and what these results mean.
Indeed, many of the very best programmers at Microsoft were pulled off other projects to give Windows XP SP2 the quality and polish it deserves. It’s no secret that recent rounds of worms and network-borne attacks made this a top priority for the company and, as a result, Windows XP SP2 evolved into a much more security-centric update than was originally planned.