The Microsoft Windows XP Security Guide Overview page contains:

Executive Summary

Any environment is only as secure as its weakest link. Unfortunately, client operating systems are often overlooked during security projects. As your organization plans to implement Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional, ensure that security is an integral part of your deployment plans.

While the default installation of Windows XP is quite secure, it is important to bear in mind the trade–offs that exist between security, usability, and the functionality of the clients in your environment. A thorough understanding of these trade-offs places your organization in a position to strengthen the deployment of Windows XP to include a significantly higher level of security than provided by the default installation.

The Windows XP Security Guide provides recommendations for deploying Windows XP in three distinct environments. The first and most common of these is an enterprise environment that consists of Windows XP running in a Windows 2000 or Microsoft Windows Server™ 2003 domain. The second consists of Windows XP in a high security environment in which security risk mitigation can be implemented at the highest possible level. Finally, guidance is offered for deploying Windows XP in a stand-alone or unmanaged environment.


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Figure 1.1

Chapter outline for the Windows XP Security Guide

Who Should Read This Guide

This guide is intended primarily for consultants, security specialists, systems architects, and IT professionals who are responsible for the planning stages of application or infrastructure development, and the deployment of Windows XP workstations in an enterprise environment. This guide is not intended for home users.

Security specialists and IT architects may need more detailed information on the security settings discussed in this guide. This information can be found in the companion guide: Threats and Countermeasures: Security Settings in Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP.

Content Road Map

Windows XP is the most dependable version of Windows yet, offering the best security and privacy features. Overall security has been improved in Windows XP to help ensure your organization will work in a safe and secure computing environment. The Windows XP Security Guide consists of seven chapters. Chapters two through six of this guide discuss the procedures involved to optimize these security features in your environment. Each chapter builds on an end-to-end process to best secure the Windows XP clients in your environment.

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Windows XP Security Guide

This chapter includes an overview of the guide, including descriptions of the intended audience, the problems that are discussed, and the overall intent of the guide.

Chapter 2: Configuring the Active Directory Domain Infrastructure

Group Policy can be used to manage user and computer environments in Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 domains. This chapter discusses the preliminary steps that must be performed in your domain prior to applying Group Policy to your Windows XP clients.

Chapter 3: Security Settings for Windows XP Clients

This chapter covers the security settings for Windows XP clients that may be set via Group Policy in a Windows Server 2003 domain. Guidance is not provided for all available settings — only those that can further enhance the security of the clients in your environment. Applying the recommended configurations for specific settings provides an operating environment that is secure from most current threats, while allowing users to continue working without unnecessary constraints on their computers. Base the decision to deploy these setting configurations on the security goals of your organization.

Chapter 4: Administrative Templates for Windows XP

In this chapter, settings are discussed that can be added to Windows XP using Administrative Templates. These templates are Unicode files that you can use to configure the registry-based settings that govern the behavior of many services, applications, and operating system components. There are five administrative templates that ship with Windows XP that contain more than 600 settings.

Chapter 5: Securing Stand-alone Windows XP Clients

This chapter discusses the configuration of stand-alone Windows XP clients. While the deployment of Windows XP in a Microsoft Active Directory® domain infrastructure is recommended, this is not always possible. This chapter provides guidance on applying the recommended configurations to Windows XP clients that are not members of a Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 domain.

Chapter 6: Software Restriction Policy for Windows XP Clients

This chapter provides a basic overview of software restriction policy. Software restriction policy provides administrators with a policy driven mechanism to identify and limit the software may run in their domain. Using a software restriction policy, an administrator can prevent unwanted programs from running; as well as viruses, Trojan horses, or other malicious code. Software restriction policies fully integrate with Active Directory and Group Policy. Software restriction policies can be used in environments without a Windows Server 2003 domain infrastructure only when applied to each local computer in your environment.

Chapter 7: Conclusion

The concluding chapter recaps the important points of the guide content in a brief overview of everything discussed in the previous chapters.

Downloads and Resources

Download the Windows XP Security Guide, along with the guide's associated tools and templates.

Related Resources

For further information on the security settings prescribed in this guide, download the companion guide, Threats and Countermeasures: Security Settings in Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP.

For definitions of common security terms and phrases, please refer to the Microsoft Solutions for Security Glossary.