Windows XP is perhaps the most widely used operating system. For good reason its been around since 2001. This week we talk about keeping the security systems of an XP computer up-to-date. When Microsoft released service pack two for XP, users and support people alike could now relax a little. Besides fixing a number of software bugs, service pack two also introduced the Windows Security Center. The security center consolidates the three core security functions of Automatic Updates, Windows Firewall and Virus Protection into one easy-to-use dialog box. Maintaining these three items is absolutely essential to computer security maintenance. To access the security center do the following: click the Start button, look on the right-side of the menu, find and click on Control Panel. Within the control panel locate and open the security center. There are two main areas within the security center. The first is a list of applicable resources for those wanting more information. The second is the main feature of the security center where users can instantly see the security status of the PC. The preferred setting for all three items is ON. Lets talk about why. Automatic updates allows the computer to be updated with small fixes called patches or larger ones called service packs. Both are essential to keeping the condition of the operating system at a peak level. The Windows firewall provides protection from Internet intruders while the Virus Protection area monitors the status of the antivirus solution. Currently, Windows XP should be at service pack three. See where your computer is by going back into the control panel and opening the applet called System. Look on the general tab of the system properties dialog box for current service pack information. Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at email@example.com.