Your background processes look OK. If you have enough system memory to run all of these, your performance shouldn't suffer much at all. If you have 1gb of system memory, you've nothing to worry about. If you were pushing for top performance, you could opt-out of having QuickTime (qttask.exe) and RealPlayer (realsched.exe) running their taskbar apps continuously (you'd opt-out in their "Preferences" or "Options" menus. But I'm not sure they matter enough to make much difference.
You asked about free malware scanners - there are many good ones. But from your background processes, it looks like you have some form of Symantec/Norton scanner already. If it's recent, up-to-date, and capable (and paid for!) - no reason not to keep it. It is one of the more resource-heavy scanners, but that's partly because it's thorough.
If your subscription has expired, and you are considering free-for-personal-use "home" edition alternatives, my favorites are -- the ZoneAlarm firewall (I also like the Sunbelt/Kerio Personal firewall), avast! antivirus, and for spyware scanners I like the combo of AdAware & SpyBot (I especially recommend using the "Immunize" function of SpyBot regularly). Links to all of those can be had at cnet's download.com.
You might simply have one of the Windows-XP display quirks, for which workarounds have been figured out -- take a look through those last three MSKB articles & see if your Task Manager cpu usage points to one of those as a possible cause. The very last article only concerns situations when the csrss process goes to 100% as a result of a right-click.
Time for me to get a fresh cup of coffee.
. . . Gary
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