Firewall Protection

Dear Computer Lady,

For the past 2 months or so, I’ve been getting these text-only pop up messages, even when I don’t actually have a web browser open.  I have a cable internet connection, not dial up so I’m always connected to the internet.  Some of the messages that pop up say that my computer is wide open to the internet.  Is this true? And if so am I at risk for viruses/hackers? These particular ones are trying to sell me software to stop these unwanted messages, but they state that this is something that Microsoft had programmed into the software to allow this and it seems to me that there should be some kind of setting that I could change without actually spending money on some software. 

There are also others trying to sell different products and the majority of them are from different porn websites.  They always show the IP address they are coming from and I cannot continue working on what I was doing until I close the window.  It is very annoying and frustrating, but this is my computer and I don’t feel I should have to pay someone to get this to stop.  Any suggestions???

Thank you, Jessica

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Dear Jessica,

If you are getting these messages, not only is it annoying, but it also means that your computer is open to hackers! To test this, go to http://www.grc.com and run the “Shields Up” test.

The best and simplest way to stop this and protect yourself is to get a hardware firewall. I use a Linksys router, and I have NEVER gotten one of those messenger advertisements. The router goes between your cable modem and your computer, in fact, it will allow you to hook more than one computer up to your cable connection if you get a 4 port or 8 port model.

Yes, you will have to spend some money to protect yourself. In today’s world, that is a fact of life. We all have to install antivirus software to protect ourselves from viruses, this is the same type of thing.

It is also a good idea to install all of your Windows updates, if you have Windows XP, this will automatically turn on the built in firewall.

Elizabeth

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