Instead of showing the default logon, logoff and shutdown status messages you can enable detailed messages that will tell you exactly what is going on. Wondering what is taking your logon so long? With detailed messages turned on you will see messages like Processing group policy and other specific tasks Windows Vista is executing.

To enable detailed status messages on your computer, follow these steps: More »

The jury is still out on this tweak for speeding up the Internet connection in Windows XP PRO. I’m making no claims for it but it’s easy to do, and undo so see what you think….

The premise of the tip is that XP Pro (sorry XP Home users it doesn’t work for you…) is configured to reserve 20 percent of your available bandwidth for Windows housekeeping activities, downloading updates and so on. There’s some debate as to whether this is true or not but XP itself claims it to be the case. More »

In my last article I showed you how you can protect your computer against anonymous user account attacks by turning on account logon auditing so you could see when someone attempts to remotely logon to your account. Now I am going to help your increase your level of protection with the Account Lockout Policy.

Creating an Account Lockout Policy will protect your account by limiting the number of time a remote application or attacker can try to guess your password. This works by automatically locking out your account after a designated number of incorrect passwords were entered. Your account will remain locked out for a designated period of time before it is automatically unlocked and it can be logged into again. This provides a valuable addition to your account security because it can render brute force password attacks useless. If you have your lockout threshold set to 4 bad attempts and the lockout duration to 15 minutes, an attacker can try to guess your password a maximum of 16 times per hour. More »

There is no doubt that all of the security features in Windows Vista will help keep your computer secure. However, these features become less valuable when they are not turned on by default. One feature, known as user account auditing, is not turned on by default. With this feature is turned off, anyone with physical access or remote access to through a hole in your firewall (such an opening for Remote Desktop) can use a brute force attack against your user account for as long as they want without getting noticed at all. How? The default audit security policy is configured to not log any account logon events, successful or failed.

This allows an attacker to try to hack your accounts for as long as it takes to break in. There are a few ways to protect against this that I am going to go over in my next article about the Account Lockout policy. But first, it is important to turn on this account auditing so that you can see who may be trying to break into your accounts. After you have adjusted the auditing security policy, you will be able to see any account attacks including the account that they tried to logon with and where the request came from. More »

I’m sure you are well aware now of the advantages and disadvantages of UAC. It is great for non-admin users because it protects their computer from themselves. For advanced users, it can be a much different story causing many annoying authorization pop-ups. This is most common when you are doing a lot of activities that require admin rights such as installing applications and configuring Windows Vista after a fresh install. There is one practical solution to this issue that will help you with the UAC pop-ups if they annoy you and still benefit from the security of UAC.

This can be achieved by adjusting the local security policy to essentially disable UAC for administrators while leaving it enabled for low rights users. When you are using your PC for normal day-to-day use, log in with your low rights account. If you need to install a bunch of applications and make major system configuration changes then log in with your admin account. With fast user switching in Windows Vista you can easily switch between your accounts with little effort. More »