Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Windows "Security Center" is an attempt to raise awareness about security issues while making it a bit easier to deal with.

What's this new 'Security Center' thing in XP service pack 2 all about?

If you've installed Windows XP Service Pack 2, one of the first things you'll be presented with is the new "Windows Security Center".

What's it all about?

In a nutshell, it's an attempt to raise awareness and put security issues "in your face" while at the same time making it all just a little easier to deal with.

Let's look a little more closely.

The security center focuses on three important areas related to keeping you computer safe: your firewall, automatic Windows updates, and virus protection.

Each of these three areas has a "recommended setting" that is typically the most secure. In most cases, the recommended settings are correct, and if you're unsure, they're the settings to select.

The Windows Firewall is important to enable if you are connected directly to the internet, or are using a portable computer on some public network such as an internet cafe or hotspot. It's safe to disable if you're already behind a firewall, such as a router, and trust all the other computers with you behind that router.

Automatic Updates should typically be enabled in some fashion. I personally prefer to have it automatically download, but then inform me that updates are ready to install so that I can chose when this happens.

"In most cases, the recommended settings are correct, and if you're unsure, they're the settings to select."

You should have some kind of Virus Protection, and the Security Center will alert you if it thinks you don't. While Microsoft does not currently have it's own anti-virus package, the Security Center includes a link to a page where Microsoft lists several partners providing reputable anti-virus solutions.

As I said, the Security Center is intended to raise awareness and make it easier to configure these important components of keeping your computer safe on the internet. For the most part, it's alerting us to issues that we should all be aware of, and dealing with.

I've teamed up with Lockergnome to provide a new video tip each week. View the tip Exploring the Windows XP Security Center and watch as I walk through the various options presented in this new Windows feature.

Article C2154 - August 13, 2004 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

August 28, 2004 7:57 PM

I just installed SP2 and I have Norton Antivirus and ZoneAlarm firewall so I tried to disable the Alert Settings in Security Center but everytime I reboot the settings don't save and I'm bothered with the annoying "You computer may be at risk" alert. Do you have any ideas on how to solve this? I wouldn't mind just getting rid of Security Center as it just tells me a bunch of crap that I already know.

August 29, 2004 11:49 AM

If you open up the security center, and hit the "recommendations" button for anti-virus and for firewall, there's a checkbox that says "I have something I'll monitor myself". Select that for both and it should stop bugging you.

August 30, 2004 11:40 AM

Leo, this does not work, for every time you reboot it resets itself and gives you the same
"Your computer may be at risk" . Is there anyway to remove Security Center all together????

August 30, 2004 5:17 PM

Actually it does work. I've rebooted enough times to be certain of that, and the security center is not bugging me at all (and I've set it as I described - I monitor my own firewall and anti-virus). I'm not aware of any way to uninstall the security center. Make sure you have administrator privileges when you change the settings - that's all I can think of that might be getting in the way right now.

August 31, 2004 8:35 AM

Ok well thanks for trying. It still doens't work.

September 1, 2004 12:18 PM

Actually Leo, Randy is right. I've selected that option too and everytime I restart I get the same crap. I think it has to do with ZoneAlarm. But anyway, I have found a way to disable Security Center and I don't see any harm in doing this because it's just a stupid app that tells computer illiterate people that their comp is not protected.

To disable, click Start/Run. Type msconfig and click ok. Now click the Services tab and search for Security Center (probably near the bottom) and unselect the check box and press ok. At the confirmation box, click Restart and it will be gone for as long as that box is unchecked. :)

And thanks for trying to help Leo. I appreciated it.

September 3, 2004 4:38 AM

You can disable it another way, too. Right-click on My Computer and click Manage. Expand Services and Applicatoins and click on Services. On the right, find Security Center. Right-click and select Properties. First hit the "Stop" button to stop the service, then in the selection box for "Startup Type" select "Disabled." Then hit "Apply." You shouldn't get any more messages as long as the service is turned off.

September 4, 2004 3:21 AM

Hi guys - Symantec confirm that their code prevents Security Center from detecting the status of Norton Antivirus, but that an update will be available soon from LiveUpdate that will sort it out. They don't say exactly when, just 'soon after SP2 is available'. Hope that helps.

September 4, 2004 3:54 AM

However, nice isn't it that Norton has to release an update so that the Security Center isn't thought of as a virus? Any conspiracy theorists out there...?

September 8, 2004 5:25 PM

Thanks for the solution Kyle (and Joshua) I restarted a hundred times and the damn thing pops up everytime no matter what options I chose.

I have both Zone Alarm and Norton Antivirus but I think it had more to do with Zone Alarm since it was only the firewall annoyance that kept coming up.

September 9, 2004 4:16 PM

I think that update from Symantec is already out. If it's the WMI update thing, I've already had it and it didn't stop the annoyances.

September 11, 2004 4:07 PM

it also blocks codecs from being dled from microsofts codec site which makes media player all that useless

Chastity Benefits
September 15, 2004 5:35 AM


instead of media player try JetAudio (plus)


September 25, 2004 6:55 AM

Go to
It explains how to use the "Change the way security center alerts me" to stop the annoying pop up.


November 10, 2004 5:02 PM

I had the same firewall alert annoyance ever since I installed SP2. and that is despite the fact that I checked the "I have a firewall solution that I'll monitor myself" tab under recommendations. I don't have zonelaram or any other firewall program installed on my computer.
I wonder what makes this stupid bug occur.
thanks guys for the tips on how to disable that ridiculous security center.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.