Every once in a while something profoundly useful just appears in front of me and Steve Gibson's latest triumph, a Web-based Windows security checker called "Shield's UP!" is such a thing. This wonderful utility not only tell you when something is wrong with your computer's security settings, it will also tell you how to fix it. I can't recommend this site enough: If you're using a Windows PC to connect to the Internet, you need to visit Shield's UP!
"I was tightening up the security of a new DSL connection. Out of curiosity I did a quick scan of the IP addresses in my IP 'neighborhood' and was shocked by all of the port 139's that were open," Gibson says. "That started me wondering how big this problem was... and 'ShieldsUP!' is the result!"
Steve's site includes a wealth of information, tips, how-to's and even some cool utilities that make it easy to enable and disable the Client for Microsoft networks component, which he describes as the most dangerous software you can have on an Internet-connected PC. Gibson ties the problem to Microsoft's NetBIOS technology, which was never designed to interoperate with the global Internet.
"This feels like the very early days of software viruses, when people weren't taking precautions, weren't aware of, and didn't understand the problem," he says. "So, I decided to provide some tools to help people appreciate and deal with this growing problem."
Drop whatever you're doing (including reading this!) and head over to Steve Gibson's excellent Shields UP! Web site. You'll be happy you did