In my commentary "Protecting Home Computers--A Site with Bite" in the January 8, 2004, issue of Windows Client UPDATE, I highlighted Microsoft Web sites that educate novice users about providing security and privacy for Windows clients. Many readers who passed along that Web site information to their novice user friends have asked me to provide similar resources for technically savvy users.
One such site is Microsoft's Security Guidance Center for Developers and IT Pros at http://www.microsoft.com/security/guidance/default.mspx . The Security Guidance Center contains links to all sorts of Microsoft information about a range of security topics and is targeted at IT professionals. The site provides everything from hands-on, how-to articles to simple security checklists, as well as downloadable Microsoft security tools (such as the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer--MBSA). The "guidance" part of the name refers to links to detailed troubleshooting-style modules that provide clear, concise technical information to help you understand, find, and solve technical security problems.
Additionally, the Security Guidance Center includes links to a broad range of how-to articles. Although many of the articles focus on Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows 2000, some articles are relevant for administrators who support legacy OSs.
Microsoft also plans to release the Microsoft Security Guidance Kit, a CD-ROM compendium of the various guidance information, tools, road maps, templates, and how-to documents that are scattered throughout Microsoft's security Web sites. The kit is scheduled for release in April, but you can preorder it at http://www.microsoft.com/security/guidance/order/default.mspx . The kit is free and will be available only in the United States and Canada. If you provide security support to Windows OSs, I recommend that you order the Security Guidance Kit.
More About Instant Messaging
In response to my column in the March 4 Windows Client UPDATE--about Instant Messaging (IM)--I received email messages from readers who suggested another alternative to the mainstream IM clients: Miranda Instant Messenger ( http://miranda-im.org ). Miranda IM is open source, free, and uses a plug-in model to let developers write add-on modules that perform specific functions. Miranda IM supports AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), ICQ, MSN, Yahoo!, and a host of less frequently used IM protocols. (Yahoo! support is provided through a plug-in module still in development.) I haven't had the opportunity to wring the software out, but Miranda IM seems to be a slick little client that's worth a look.