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Computer Security with Windows XP

Lynn Aaron, SUNY Rockland Community College using a the Security at Home: Protecting your PC Website provided by Microsoft.
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This material was originally developed through Merlot as part of its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.


This activity helps students develop the skills to make use of features of the Windows XP operating system to protect their own PCs. A reinforcement activity uses a Microsoft Website that deals with several types of security issues incuding viruses, hackers, and spyware. Tutorials are provided for use of Windows Security Center and how to get antispyware software.

A second part of the assignment focuses on using the Internet to get information on current viruses. Students use the Internet to explore major anti-virus software sites and/or government Websites on this topic.

Learning Goals

On successful completion of the first part of theactivity, students will be able to:
  • Access the Windows Security Center
  • Explain the three components of the Microsoft Security Center
  • Turn the firewall on or off on their computer.
  • Explain the four possible settings for automatic updates.
  • Choose the Automatic Update setting they wish.

On successful completion of part two, students will be able to:
  • Use the Microsoft Knowledgebase.
  • Locate informaton about a current virus from a major anti-virus software manufacturer.
  • Locate information about a current virus from a government resource.

Context for Use

This exercise is used with an introduction to computers class with computers using the Windows XP operating system.
Students will need access to an Internet-capable computer with a browser.
Students should be familiar with:
  • The Windows XP interface.
  • Techniques for searching the Internet.
  • Reasons computer protection is needed: identity theft, viruses, (worms, trojan horses)

Description and Teaching Materials

[file 'Assignment for Security with Windows XP']

Teaching Notes and Tips

- Pros and cons of using a firewall.
- Pros and cons of automatic updates.

Depending on the level of your students, additional opportunities for activities include exploration of the FAQ available from the Microsoft Website on firewalls and use of Security Center advanced features.


The assignment handout provides room for students to insert answers. It can be reviewed by the instructor or by the student with the class as a whole. This depends on the significance of the activity to a grade.

References and Resources