Windows XP Service Pack 2 (Part 3): The new Security Center


This article is Part 3 of the Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Step by Step guide. This article discusses the new Security Center.

To view the other topics of the Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Step by Step guide, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base articles that are listed in the "References" section.

The Windows XP Service Pack 2 - Step by Step guide includes the following topics:
Part 1:  Better security with Service Pack 2 Part 2:  Installing Service Pack 2 Part 3:  The new Security Center Part 4:  Automatic Updates Part 5:  Virus protection Part 6:  Windows Firewall Part 7:  Protecting against buffer overflows Part 8:  Improvements in Internet Explorer and Outlook Express Part 9:  Uninstalling Service Pack 2 

Part 3: The new Security Center

The Security Center monitors a computer for faulty settings or shortfalls that pose a security threat. The Security Center verifies whether a firewall is enabled, evaluates the Automatic Updates configuration, and makes sure that the virus protection program is functioning correctly.

If Windows detects a security risk, a warning message is displayed. This lets you act immediately to enhance security.
Security risk warning message on taskbar

How to open the Security Center

The Security Center is very easy to use.
Security icon (taskbar)
Click the security icon on the taskbar, or click Start, select Control Panel, and then double-click Security Center.
Security icon (Control Panel)

Checking security settings

After you have open the Security Center, you can verify the security settings. Entries are marked red, yellow, or green to help you evaluate the situation.
  • Green
    Current settings are okay. The computer is protected. You do not have to take action.
  • Yellow
    Current settings are okay. However, you should verify that the security features on the computer are up to date.
  • Red
    Current settings may be faulty. The computer is probably at risk.
Security Center overview page

Detailed information

If a fault is detected, detailed information is displayed automatically. In the example, the Security Center is satisfied with the enabled firewall. However, Automatic Updates still requires input from the user, and there is no virus protection software installed.


You can manually display or hide the details at any time. Just click the corresponding status bar.
Security Center - Firewall - Status bar on
Security Center - Firewall - Status bar off

How to modify the security settings

If it is required, you can modify the security settings from the Security Center. Click the appropriate link in the Manage security settings for section. This means you do not have to use Control Panel to modify settings. You only have to configure virus protection separately.
Manage security settings for:


For more information about this topic, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
889735 Better security with Service Pack 2 (Part 1)

889736 Installing Service Pack 2 (Part 2)

889738 Automatic Updates (Part 4)

889739 Virus protection (Part 5)

889740 Windows Firewall (Part 6)

889741 Protecting against buffer overflows (Part 7)

889742 Improvements in Internet Explorer and Outlook Express (Part 8)

889743 Uninstalling Service Pack 2 (Part 9)
This article is a translation from German. Any subsequent changes or additions to the original German article may not be reflected in this translation. The information that is contained in this article is based on the German-language versions of this product. The accuracy of this information relative to other language versions of this product is not tested within the framework of this translation. Microsoft makes this information available without warranty of its accuracy or functionality and without warranty of the completeness or accuracy of the translation.

Article ID: 889737 - Last Review: 23 Oct 2008 - Revision: 1