I had to secure a new Dell laptop (a lovely Inspiron M1210) recently, here’s what I did.
Security updates for operating system
First things, first – update Windows as soon as possible. Use Windows Update at windowsupdate.com.
Alternative to using Windows Update:
In the comments, brucew mentioned AutoPatcher XP. He says “Updated monthly, a single download contains all the patches, plus some other useful things. You launch the installer, tick-off the things you want it to do and walk away. Recommended.”.
Sounds great, because you don’t leave your unpatched machine exposed while you’re downloading updates – which, if you’re on a really slow connetion gives a very strong chance of your machine being compromised before it’s patched. So offline patches are good – and the fire and forget interface is really cool – who wants to click buttons when you can be making a cup of tea?
Free auto-updating anti-virus system
Free anti-spyware tools
I normally install these two (and immediately use the online updates after install):
Install a secure browser
Am I missing anything?