February 1, 2003               What am I exposing to the world on my computer...

The "out of the box" installed configuration of Windows has some holes in it.
When you first connect your computer to the internet, you don't realize it, but there is exposed information about you publically available.

How can I confirm this?
There are a number of ways to confirm it but * http://www.grc.com is probably one of the best ways to do so. If you click on the GRC link you will be taken to the GRC website. Then if you choose "Shields Up" on the first page and then on the second page and choose "Shields up" again, you will be taken to a page that begins to explain these holes.

We recommend you take a few minutes to read through the text on this first page.

From here then look for 2 buttons; "Test My Shields" and "Probe My Ports".

Clicking on "Test My Shields" will give permission to GRC to do an initial evaluation of your internet connection. Reading through this is very enlightening about your current computer comfiguration.

Scrolling down on the page will take you to the "Probe My Ports" button. Clicking on this button will give GRC permission to do a more exhaustive test of your ports and at the end of the test you will receive a list of ports with status on each.

The best status for a port is "Stealth" This means it does not exist on the internet for GRC or any potential hacker to work on your computer. "Closed" means the port is visible but closed. This is not good as hackers have gotten very good at getting through ports due to the "holes" in the software referenced above. Last is the "Open" status. This means that particular port is open to the world and many hacker exploits are used to take advantage of this.

OK - ports are open and I am exposed to the internet - How do I fix it?
There are a number of ways to fix this. There are both hardware and software firewalls that will hide the ports and still allow you to work normally with internet browsing, email, instant messenger chat sessions and most other internet functions.

At PerTel our preferred solution is a device called a router that is a hardware device. It just works and will make you look like "Stealth" to the internet. We usually recommend the Linksys BEFSR41 and it can be purchased at just about any computer store for about $50.

Other solutions are fine too, but we have found this one to be the least burden to our systems and the most reliable too.

Need Help?
Give us a call and we can assist you in choosing the most appropriate firewall solution!

* Gibson Research Corporation, Laguna Hills, California

Have a great day,
Bill Perry

Copyright (c) 2003, PerTel Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

PerTel Communications, Inc.     949-830-2092     FAX 949-916-5722
PO Box 4743
Mission viejo, CA 92690-4743
For other computer help and custom programming - www.pertel.com .