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  Most Popular Tutorials

• Microsoft Vista Home Networking Setup and Options
The most daunting part of upgrading to Windows Vista may be trying to figure out where in the layers of menus the networking and file-sharing options are hidden.

• Do It Yourself: Roll Your Own Network Cables
It may not be something you do everyday, but having the supplies and know-how to whip up a network cable on the spot can be very handy.

• Tips for Securing Your Home Router
Seemingly minor and easily overlooked settings can still have profound security implications. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your wired or wireless home router and by extension, your network is as secure as possible.

  Most Popular Reviews

• Microsoft Windows Home Server
If you have a home network, you'll welcome the easy file sharing, remote access and the image-based backup features of Windows Home Server.

• Iomega StorCenter Network Hard Drive
Iomega's fourth generation StorCenter Network Hard Drive brings many of the features found in higher-end storage devices down to an attractive price.

• MikroTik's The Dude
This free tool delivers many of the same capabilities that you'd find in pricey network monitoring tools. As long as you don't mind tinkering, The Dude is a decent network utility that should be worth the download.

Windows XP's Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) protects your network against undesired incoming traffic from the Internet -- everything from casual port scans by bored teenagers to serious break-in attempts by determined hackers. ICF creates a protective barrier between your network and the Internet, only passing through traffic that you've requested.

You can enable or disable ICF separately on each dial-up, LAN, or high-speed Internet connection in the Network Connections folder. That's good, because there are some connections that can benefit from ICF, and some that must not use it.

Here are some points to ponder when deciding whether to use ICF on your network connections.

WARNING #1: As its name implies, the Internet Connection Firewall is for use ONLY on a direct connection to the Internet, such as a dial-up, DSL, or cable modem. If your computer gets its Internet connection through a software router (like Internet Connection Sharing) or a hardware router, you don't have a direct connection and must not enable ICF.

WARNING #2: If the Internet Connection Firewall is enabled on a local area network connection with other computers, it will block File and Printer Sharing. This is probably the most common problem in Windows XP networking.

WARNING #3: ICF is only effective against undesired incoming traffic from the Internet. It can't stop undesired outgoing traffic from spyware, Trojan horse programs, or other hacker tools. If you want outgoing protection, use a firewall that offers that capability, and disable ICF on all connections.

WARNING #4: To enable or disable ICF, you must be logged on as a user that is a member of the Administrators group.

Enabling and Disabling the Internet Connection Firewall

To enable ICF on an Internet connection, open the Network Connections folder, right click the desired connection, and click Properties.

The Properties sheet shows the network components associated with the connection.

Click the Advanced tab, then check Protect my computer and network by limiting or preventing access to this computer from the Internet.

If the firewall is enabled and you want to disable it, un-check the same box.

Windows XP asks you to confirm your decision to disable the firewall. Click Yes to disable it.

Internet Connection Firewall Security Log

By default, ICF silently discards all undesired incoming traffic. To see a record of its activity, you can enable security logging.

Open the Advanced tab of the network connection's properties and click Settings.

Click Security Logging to bring up the logging options.

To see messages about discarded traffic, check Log dropped packets. On a cable modem connection, it's common to see several dozen of these messages every day.

To see messages about permitted traffic, check Log successful connections. Selecting this option can cause the log file to grow very large very quickly. To limit its size, enter a number in the Size limit box.

By default, the security log is written to file pfirewall.log in the Windows folder. To change the file name, enter a new name in the Name box, or click the Browse button and browse to the new file.

For information on how to read and interpret the security log, click Learn more about Internet Connection Firewall on the Advanced tab.

Adding Windows XP Home Edition to an Exisiting Network
Simple File Sharing
Internet Connection Firewall
WinXP Networking Protocols
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