If you’re not careful, hackers can remotely connect to your computer without your knowledge and copy, modify, or delete files. If you travel a lot and need to connect to unsecured wireless networks in hotels, airports, etc. You should improve the security of your system to avoid falling victim to a hacker.
In Windows XP, there are several steps you can take to prevent remote access to your computer. Of course, you can’t be 100% sure about unknown security and software vulnerabilities, but it’s better to do something than nothing.
Try to follow as many of the suggestions below as possible. If you’re in a corporate environment, you probably don’t need to worry about security, as IT administrators are usually responsible for this.
Disable remote computer connections
First, if you are not using Remote Desktop, disable it. If you want to know more about Remote Desktop, read my post on How to Set Up Remote Desktop in Windows XP. To disable Remote Desktop, right-click My Computer and select Properties. Now go to the Remote tab.
Go ahead and uncheck Allow users to connect to this computer remotely. Now, people cannot connect to your Windows XP computer using Remote Desktop Protocol. Of course, there are other protocols a hacker can use, such as Telnet or FTP, so you should make sure they are not enabled.
If Remote Desktop is disabled on your computer and you cannot enable it in the usual way, you can read my previous post on How to enable Remote Desktop through the registry.
Turn on Windows Firewall to block incoming connections
You also want to make sure that you have Windows Firewall turned on or another third party firewall installed. The Windows XP firewall will only block incoming connections to your computer, unlike Vista, which can filter both incoming and outgoing traffic.
You can turn on the firewall by clicking Start, Control Panel and clicking Windows Firewall. Make sure the switch is on. Note that there is also a “Don’t Allow Exceptions” option.
This option is very useful when you are at the airport or anywhere else where you need to connect to a random unsecured wireless network. It will block all incoming connections, which means you won’t be able to use programs like Yahoo Messenger or GTalk, but you can browse the Internet. When you get back to secure trusted connection, just uncheck the box.
Also on the Exceptions tab, make sure you don’t have unnecessary unblocked ports. You will have a list of programs, which is fine, but if you have a lot of open ports, they can be used to attack your computer.
Disable Windows services for remote access
Finally, you can disable several services in Windows XP that will help reduce the “surface area” of an attack on your computer. By default, Windows starts several services that are actually not needed at all.
For example, the Remote Registry service is enabled by default, which allows you to access the registry from a remote computer. You can disable these services by selecting Start, Run, and typing services.msc. Scroll down to Remote Registry, right-click and select Stop.
Then right-click again and select Properties. In the Startup type combo box, change the value to Disabled.
You also want to do this for the Telnet service as it allows users to connect to the computer using Telnet. This is it! This is one of the simplest and most common ways to protect your computer from remote access without your permission! Enjoy!