Last month, I reported in WinInfo Daily UPDATE that Microsoft would unleash an unprecedented amount of free online Windows 2003 documentation, which the company would phase in and update over time ( ). With the Windows Server 2003 release barely a week past, Microsoft is continuing to deliver on its sustained-content-model promise. This week, the company issued the voluminous "Windows Server 2003 Security Guide," "Threats and Countermeasures: Security Settings in Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP," and companion documentation designed to help harden Windows 2000 Server and Win2K Professional against attack.

Microsoft says the "Windows Server 2003 Security Guide" includes 12 chapters that provide a set of easy-to-understand guides, tools, and templates to help secure Windows 2003 in many environments. "While the product is extremely secure from the default installation, there are a number of security options that can be further configured based on specific requirements," the company notes. "This guidance not only provides recommendations, but also the background information on the risk that the setting is used to mitigate as well as the impact to an environment when the option is configured."

"Threats and Countermeasures: Security Settings in Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP" is another 12-chapter guide. This guide details threats, potential countermeasures, and the possible effects of configuring various security settings in Windows 2003 and XP. In addition to these two security guides, Microsoft has also delivered deployment, Windows NT migration, and planning and architecture reference material related to Windows 2003.

Win2K users can access the 6-chapter "Windows 2000 Security Hardening Guide," which provides generic guidance for securing a range of system types, without trading off basic OS functionality. "The recommendations in this guide were generally chosen to safely allow Microsoft customers to deploy the recommended settings on existing Windows 2000 systems, not just on newly-built systems," the company notes in the documentation. "We have also reviewed the default permissions on Windows Server 20003 and recommended those permissions here where they did not break existing Windows 2000 Server services."