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I've heard that Windows' default security settings may be less secure than they could be, and I'd like to configure them so they're more secure. Is there a (preferably free) software tool that can this for me? What sort of settings are most important to configure?

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    What do you mean "might be risky" ? What are your security concerns with stock Windows 7? Are we talking an "up to date" Windows 7 install or one that has never installed any patches? I guess this sounds too open-ended to me and not specific enough. Dec 19, 2011 at 15:16

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It's risky, maybe.
You should keep your system up to date (even if it's boring and takes some time, it's the best way to being safe), get a firewall/antivirus and scan for malwares with malwarebytes every x weeks. But then there is not more to do.
The best way for keeping it safe is being aware of what's going on with the machine.
Install some gadgets that monitor your internet connection, your CPU, RAM, and such things.
If you see some anormal activity (imagine you see that you're uploading a lot of data, but you're doing nothign : you may have a mail spam server sending spam from your computer and IP adress). There is a lot to check to keep it safe.
Also pay attention to all those checked boxes when installing some stuff : you can be tricked into installing in exemple ASK.com or some unwanted stuff that potentially can compromise the integrity of your system.
Paying attention is the best way to secure your machine !

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  • but there is no miracle soft or script that can do it for you (or i don't know it, so please tell me if such a thing exixsts) Dec 19, 2011 at 13:12
  • Patrick is right, I could hand you an OFF switch for holes all over the system, and it could cripple half of what you do :-) I can barely keep up with all the ways legit stuff uses the same holes. A software will fail terrible and you wont even know why, eronious errors, out of the blue fails etc. worst possible stuff is that junkware that claims it can fix-ya-pc. There are good pay forever packages that normal consumers survive with. There are teams of freeware not just One, you could assemble. Win firewall doesn't even stop a Virus Inside from being able to go outside (outgoing) normaly.
    – Psycogeek
    Dec 19, 2011 at 14:49
  • +1 The number one defense you have for your machine is between the keyboard and the chair. Short of that, automatic updates and a/v, firewall, malware scans will help, but will not do anything if you say that you are willing to do anything if it will only show you that video of the dancing baby.
    – Kevin M
    Dec 19, 2011 at 20:32
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It's called Anti Virus software. A Firewall is good too. Many of these can be had for free.

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  • Could you link a few maybe? Dec 19, 2011 at 22:15
  • Currently I've been recommending for basic users the Microsoft Security Essentials Antivirus, and the Windows Firewall is super simple and actually pretty decent. Dec 19, 2011 at 22:18

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