While support for Windows 2000 ended over a year ago, there are a few people still using it, or running it in a virtual environment for compatibility reasons. This being the case lets look at some ways to make Windows 2000 more secure and safe for those users still rocking a 12-year-old operating system.
First, Update Windows! Yes this sounds like a no-brainer, but did you know you can use Microsoft Update (which updates all Microsoft products) instead of just Windows Update, you can check it out at http://www.update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate/
Second, use a different internet browser, you can read my post here on that
Third, update the components used by internet Browsers, You can download the current version of Java at www.java.com Get the current version of Silverlight at www.silverlight.net The last version of Adobe Reader that is compatible with 2000 can be obtained at http://get.adobe.com/reader/ (make sure once it is installed to open up the program and click on Help and Update, this will get all the updates for the program) Finally you can download the newest version of Flash for both Internet Explorer and for Firefox and Opera, go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/otherversions/ For step one select Windows 7/Vista/XP/2008/2003 and for step two select for Windows Internet Explorer, for Internet Explorer, and then do this again from Firefox or Opera but for step two select Windows – Other Browsers (if you have both Opera and Firefox installed you only have to install Flash for Other Browsers once, it will install the plugin for both browsers)
Fourth, how about Antivirus and Anti-spyware software. There are a few things still out there for the die-hard Windows 2000 user.
Antivirus software is key if you are going to be surfing the internet in Windows 2000, you really want full Antivirus protection, Thankfully there are a few choices.
AVG Free Antivirus 9 While the newest version does not support 2000, Version 9 does, and AVG still releases updates to the program making this a great AV software for 2000, especially if you do not want to spend the money on software for a virtual installation of the operating system. You can download a version of AVG 9 Free from http://www.oldapps.com/AVG_antivirus.php?app=f86fd982885094416ab9f08ca1bda07f
Now AVG is the only free offering out there for Win 2K but if you would rather pay some money and get better protection Eset Nod32 Antivirus 4 does support Windows 2000 and does it well. I suggest just the Antivirus, but they do have an Internet Security solution as well. You can check it out below, and they often have deals running.
Lavasoft Ad-Aware Pro is also another option, they have expanded their product to include Antivirus, I am not sure how well this will work but Ad-Aware has been a good tool in the past. I know there is a Free version, however the Free one does not have real-time protection making that not a very good option. The Pro version is $29.95 for a year and you can check it out at http://www.lavasoft.com/products/ad_aware_pro.php
Now if you are wanting something Free with real-time protection but that is not going to be as much as a strain on system resources as a full-fledged antivirus solution, Spybot – Search and Destroy fits the bill. It is just anti-spyware, but does have some Immunization features to help block unwanted content and supports Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera. It is at version 1.6.2 and you can check it out at http://www.safer-networking.org/en/ownmirrors1/index.html
Now if you would just like the immunization protection from Spybot, but do not want the extra overhead of a program, I would suggest SpywareBlaster. It has immunization options for Internet Explorer and Firefox, and supports Netscape (sorry no Opera support) The free version you have to manually update but hey its free. What is great is not having to have to program run, in fact the only time you open the program is to update it and to set the protection. You can download SpywareBlaster 4.4 from http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html
Finally no talk about security would be complete without talking about a good Temp File and Registry Cleaner. I always suggest CCleaner for the job. Supports all the browsers available for Windows 2000, and has a great registry cleaner to help keep the machine running at its best. You can check it out at http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download
All of this should help to keep you better protected whether your running Windows 2000 on your desktop or just in a virtual environment. I do suggest looking into some protection, even when using virtual machines security is important.