Security Center —
Provides easy access to Windows Update, firewall, and anti-virus settings. Available only if Service Pack 2 is installed.
Control Panel → Security Center
Command Prompt →
Added in Service Pack 2, the Security Center doesn’t actually provide any additional security, but acts as a control center for your existing software—keeping tabs on what’s on or off, what needs updating or replacing, and providing impossible-to-miss warnings that erupt from the Windows System Tray.
Security Center keeps an eye on your firewall (XP’s own or any SP2-complaint third party program), your anti-virus software, and Windows’ Automatic Updates feature. (The Internet Options button takes you to Internet Explorer’s Security tab.) The Center will pop up an alert if it thinks there’s a problem in any of these areas. You can turn off monitoring by clicking the “Change the way Security Center alerts me” link in the main Security Center window. Note that the Security Center only monitors your software for activation and updates—it doesn’t actually provide any security itself.
By default, this button leads to a tabbed dialog box that lets you configure XP’s own firewall. But as you can see in Figure 4-86, it will happily monitor most third party programs. Never go online without a firewall between you and the Internet!
Figure 4-86. See instantly if something’s gone wrong, and update or replace as necessary