With the release of Vista, many home users are certainly wondering if the migration from XP to Vista is absolutely necessary. As claims the VOX POPULI : "Vista is an evolution, not a revolution". Hardening the system makes XP as secure as Vista. Since the hardware works fine, there's consequently no reason for a hasty migration.
In this article are provided exhaustive resources that can be helpful in system's hardening.
All tools linked here have already been tested and experimented. But as usual, it's suited to check their requirements1 and to choose a tool in relation with the real need and level of knowledge.
-virtual condom such as BufferZone (installation required)
-sandboxing condom with Sandboxie (installation required)
NB.There's also a virtual condom for browsers called VappWare but i've not evaluated this tool (currently in alpha and beta phase, and not available for download): a few comments are available here and here. BufferZone is (personal point of view) the most interesting condom here. But as it seems that "condom" name is amusing for some people, why not a Windows Xp virtual condom...
IS YOUR SYSTEM REALLY HARDENED? Test it with Pedestal Software WebAudit:
Now it would be interesting to audit your system before and after hardening. Pedestal Sofware (aquired by Symantec) provides an online security audit here. It requires Internet Explorer and ActiveX installation (safe and can easily be removed after the test). For privacy reasons or for paranoiacs, it could be suited to uncheck the box "collect statistics" (these statistics concern only number of OK, errors etc).
The result is detailled and can be used as a checklist for the hardening phase.
Here's the test page done on a non hardened system (case of most users):
A good result (really hardened systems) should have "NOT OK" result < 40
An expanded result related to Remote Access Service ( "NOT OK" result):
1. I've installed RunsAdmin on XP Pro, and it was neccesary to back up. The bug is fixed in the latest version.