Windows Security Center (WSC) helps make your PC more secure by alerting you when your security software is not up-to-date or when your security settings have potential weaknesses that should be corrected. For example, WSC shows you the status of your firewall settings and tells you whether your PC is set up to receive automatic software updates from Microsoft.
WSC originally debuted in Windows XP SP2. In response to feedback from customers and third-party security companies, Microsoft has made improvements to WSC in Windows Vista, including showing the status of antispyware software, Internet Explorer security settings, and User Account Control. In addition, WSC can monitor multiple vendors’ security solutions running on a computer and indicate which are enabled and up-to-date—a feature that other security center solutions do not have or do not do as well as WSC. Windows Security Center monitors the following security components for Windows Vista.
Firewall: Windows Security Center monitors the installation of a firewall solution, including the Microsoft Windows Firewall and third-party solutions. WSC monitors the presence of a firewall solution as well as the security state of the firewall. If any issue is detected with the firewall state, the user is alerted and provided with an appropriate guided experience to correct the problem from within Security Center.
Automatic Updates: Windows Security Center verifies that Automatic Updates is enabled and using Microsoft’s recommended settings. If the Windows Automatic Updates service is not running or if settings differ from the recommended settings, the user receives an alert notification and will be provided with a way to enable Automatic Updates in WSC.
Antivirus: Windows Security Center verifies the installation of antivirus solutions. When present, WSC reports whether real-time scanning is enabled and if the virus signature files are up-to-date. If any of these conditions are not met, the user receives an alert notification and is prompted with a way to resolve the problem.
Antispyware and other malware protection: Windows Security Center verifies the installation of third party antispyware solutions as well as Windows Defender. When a third party antispyware solution is present, or Windows Defender is on, WSC reports on whether scanning is enabled and if the spyware definition files are up-to-date. If any of these conditions are not met, then the user receives an alert notification and is prompted with a way to resolve the problem.
Internet security settings: Windows Security Center monitors the security settings that are associated with Internet Explorer and alerts the user whenever those security settings are lower than the recommended levels, which might put the user at risk. WSC provides a button to restore settings which the user can use to have WSC fix the settings or take the user to the control panel where the user can fix the settings manually.
User Account Control: To help ensure a safer computing experience, the User Account Control (UAC) service and policy must not be disabled or degraded. Window Security Center monitors the status of UAC and notifies the user if UAC has been changed to a setting different from what Microsoft recommends. WSC provides a button to restore UAC to the recommended settings in this case.