Mar 2000                                                                                                     

Safeguarding Your Internet Connection
By Ed Hughes, Space Coast PC Users Group

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Ed Hughes

My wife and I are now on Road Runner ( and we have investigated whether we need firewalls on our computers. We have come to the conclusion that we can have adequate security without firewalls.

By the way, everyone who is on the Internet for extended periods of time should be concerned about the security of their system. I know a man who comes home from work, logs onto his Internet Service Provider and leaves his computer on until he goes to bed. His computer is open to hackers as long as it is on.

I had the pleasure of speaking with a Road Runner technical support young man who was very knowledgeable about Local Area Networks and their exposure when on Road Runner.
He got his information from the site of Steve Gibson of SpinRite ( fame.

I told the Road Runner tech that I had also visited that site -- it has lots of information on the subject -- but I did not really come away with the step-by-step information I needed to make the changes to my set up. He led me through it, step by step.

Since then I have made the changes for my wife, two members of the Space Coast PC Users Group and a friend. It's not that difficult.

The first step for anyone should be to go to Gibson's site and have him Test your shields and Probe your ports. The first is fairly quick but the second takes several minutes. It is worth the wait.

If you have not changed your computer’s networking defaults, you will probably be told that your computer is broadcasting its presence on the Internet through its NetBEUI facility and that your POP-3 port (Post Office Protocol version 3. That’s your email protocol.) is open and available to hackers.

OK, so how do you fix all that without a firewall?Figure 1 - Network Configurations Tab

This situation occurs because Client for Microsoft Networks and File and Printer Sharing are both bound to your TCP/IP protocols. TCP/IP broadcasts its presence on the Internet. NetBEUI does not broadcast its presence unless it is “bound” to TCP/IP. To fix that, open the Control Panel and open Network. See Figure 1.

Double click on TCP/IP -> your Ethernet card and TCP/IP -> Dial Up Adapter. For both of these protocols, select the Bindings tab. Uncheck both Client for Microsoft Networks and File and Printer Sharing. Windows will complain that you haven't bound the protocols to anything. Click OK. Later, Windows will complain that you don't have a complete network. That's OK too. See Figure 2 for how the screen should look after you make the changes.

Figure 2 TCP/IP Properties Bindings Tab

Figure 3 - NetBEUI Properties Bindings Tab
At this point, if you are on a LAN (All Road Runner customers are on a LAN), you should check to make sure that NetBEUI -> Ethernet card and NetBEUI -> Dial Up Adapter ARE bound to Client for Microsoft Networks and File and Printer Sharing. See Figure 3.

When you close Networks, you will be prompted for your Windows CD. The computer will spend several seconds doing something and you will be asked if you want to reboot the computer to complete the changes. Click Yes.

Once your computer is up and running, go back to and check your shields and ports again. You should get a report that your computer is no longer exposed to the Internet and that all your ports are closed. According to Gibson, that is as secure as anyone needs to be.

If, after you make the changes recommended, your POP-3 port is still open, Gibson will tell you that it is probably because you are running Norton System Works 2000 ( That version of Norton Anti Virus puts a proxy POP-3 server between your email software and the Internet. I had to go into NAV and disable Check incoming email on the properties page. According to Gibson, Symantec ( has provided a patch for the PoPserver, but it is not a good patch.

Am I more exposed to email viruses, worms, etc. now than I was? Yes, I suppose I am, but I'm no more exposed than I was last week when I was guarding my computer with Norton System Works version 2.

If you have a LAN in your home or office, you should make sure that files and printers to be shared are protected with good passwords. A good password has upper and lower case characters, numbers and cannot be deduced from you name, address, phone number, etc.

Why would anyone need a firewall? You would need one if you are hosting a server or connecting directly to other computers to exchange files through the Internet. If your network has a server (ours doesn't) that server should run a firewall. Norton Internet Security ( has a firewall, among other things, and is now available. Gibson reluctantly gives it a good report because Symantec bought the firewall from a company he admires.

Note: This article contains links to external web sites. Web addresses are constantly changing. There is no guarantee that the information links provided in this article will remain unbroken or up-to-date beyond the date that this article is originally published.