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Are Your Shields Up?

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004 by | Filed Under: Security Help

Today I’m gonna tell you how to test your Computer’s security against outside threats from the Internet. To do this, we need the assistance of a great web-based utility called Shields Up. This handy little program probes your firewall for security shortcomings (vulnerable ports, shares, and browser Headers) and tells you about them in detailed, but easy to follow analysis.

Not only will Shields Up tell you about your open ports, it will also give you tons of additional information such as your True IP address and DNS name of your ISP. Vulnerable shared folders and tips you can use to patch up weaknesses in your network are all part of Shields Up, and it even takes the time to explain every detail of what’s going on, and some “must reads”, for the first timers.

To get started, the first thing you need to do is go out to the Gibson Research Corporation website and double click the ShieldsUp link–it’s under the Hot Spots. You may have to scroll down a ways to find it.

Shields Up is not going to come back with any save options (Open or Save), because it’s a web-based utility, meaning it runs in place from a server. The first thing you’re going to see is your outside IP address (the IP from your ISP, or Internet Service Provider) and possibly your ISP’s name (i.e. From this point you click the Proceed button, and you’ll see the Shields Up control panel where you can begin scanning specific parts of your firewall.

All the results from the various scans have great explanations of what exactly the program is doing and what the results mean. The program also offers options you can set that will produce more in-depth tests; you can run tests on specific ports by changing your firewall settings and rescanning. The program also has the option to turn your PC into a DMZ or screened subnet to see what your firewall is blocking as opposed to what your ISP is blocking.

The control panel couldn’t be easier to understand, it’s small and right to the point. Basically you click on the option you want then follow the instructions. In addition to Shields Up showing you what ports are blocked, it will also show you what commands are being blocked and what your Browser header is sending around when you’re surfing the net. Not only that, but there is an option to put a temporary cookie in your browser and to see what they look like and the purpose of a couple of lines of code in the cookie file.

Shields Up is going in my list of troubleshooting solutions and I suggest everybody take the time to go out to Gibson Research Corporation and try Shields Up. This is a nice utility and it will ultimately make you more secure on the web and more educated in the area of understanding firewalls and what they are doing to protect you.

Stay safe out there,

~ Chad


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