Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vulnerability Tool - Check for open computer ports

Even if you have a firewall on your computer and your router has a firewall, it’s still always a good idea to check using an external service which ports on your computer are open. You may not realized it, but your computer ports may be visible on the internet and that makes your computer a prime target for hackers and viruses. There are thousands of hackers out there that use automated port scanning software to find those poor computers with open ports!

A good way to figure out which ports are open and how dangerous it is for your computer is to go to a site called Shield’s Up! and use their vulnerability tool to have your computer scanned by their servers.

Once you’re at the web site, click Proceed to get started. On the next screen, you’ll have the open to choose which type of scan you want like to perform: File Sharing ports, Common ports, All ports, Messenger spam, and browser headers.

Go ahead and click on File Sharing to run that test and you should get something similiar to this:

As you can see, the scanner was not able to connect to any of the ports and my computer is considered “Very Secure“. Now go ahead and run the test for Common ports, which will test a good number more ports than just file sharing.

After the test runs, you should get a report with a big FAILED or PASSED image on both sides of the page. Below that is a list of the ports checked and the status: either Stealth, Open or Closed. Stealth means that the port could not even be seen to exist on your computer, Open means it exists and is visible to everyone on the internet, and Closed means it exists but no one is allowed to connect.

You should hopefully get a result back of Passed with all of the ports set to Stealth or Closed, unless of course you are running a web server on your computer or FTP site.

Another nice little test is the Messenger Spam check. Have you ever gotten random authentic Windows popup messages telling you to do things or signup for something, etc? Well that’s because the spammers are using the Windows Messenger service on your computer to send you messages directly from Windows itself! You can run the messenger spam check and see if you get a window popup on your computer. If you click the button and nothing happens, that means your computer blocks the spam and you’re set. If you do get it however, you’ll need to turn off the Messenger Service on your computer.

If your computer failed any of these tests, it’s a good idea to check and make sure the Windows Firewall is turned on by going to Start, Control Panel, click on Windows Firewall and make sure it’s set to ON.

Hope it helps!

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