ABC Tower   Nightlife, 26 March 2004

Tips & Hints

For the March show we covered the massive increase in infected emails and spurious emails that people are receiving. The emails are all due to the Netski virus, which ust like every virus in the last two years, puts a fake return address on the infected email. The sheer volume of infections Netski sends out means that rather than seeing one or two of these messages a month, many of us are seeing dozens of warnings every day.

If you start receiving messages claiming that an email you sent is infected with a virus, treat it with scepticism, it's probably due to your address being used as the fake return address. You should make sure any virus checkers, security updates and firewalls are up-to-date but you mustn't panic. Details of how to protect yourself are on our protection kit page.

Blaster Worm

George called in about his computer being infected with the Blaster worm. The speed this worm spreads is truly amazing. Because of this, you must have a firewall in place before connecting a Windows NT, 2000 or XP computer to the Internet, even if you use a slow dial up connection. Windows XP users should turn on the built-in firewall before connecting.

Closing ports

The blaster worm takes advantage of the open port 135 on Windows computers. Ports are to computers like doorways are to your house. On Windows XP, 2000 and NT machines, port 135 is like an open door with big neon lights reading "walk in, I'm open" above it.

Closing unnecessary ports is the most basic function of a firewall. This is what the built-in Windows XP firewall does. While we recommend using firewalls like Zone Alarm or Sygate Personal Firewall that give you control over what leaves your computer, the basic firewalls at least stop the bad guys getting in.

If you want to check what ports are open on your computer, a handy site is Shields UP! Not only will Steve Gibson's site check your computer, but he'll explain what it all means.

Reinstalling your system

We hate reinstalling operating systems. At PC Rescue, we take that as a sign of total defeat. The evil computer has won! And we don't like that.

Unfortunately, a lot of technicians, shops and help desks advise people to reinstall. In our experience, this is usually bad advice as it may not solve the problem and it will take weeks for you to get your system back to how it was running before. It is best to try everything else first.

Peter had been advised to reinstall because Internet Explorer was misbehaving. Because Windows is so dependent on Internet Explorer, this is an irritating problem. But we still don't like the idea of reinstalling.

Before attempting a reinstall, we suggest that reinstalling Internet Explorer is a better option. If you have upgraded IE in the past you can go to the Control Panel, open Add/Remove Programs and select Internet Explorer. You can then choose to repair, reinstall or remove it. We suggest reinstall or, if you are running an earlier version, upgrading to IE6.1.

For those with recent versions of Windows XP, you will find Internet Explorer listed in the Windows Components section of the Control Panel. You can remove it there, reboot and then reinstall the same way.


We recommend Grisoft AVG as a free anti virus, for spyware both Adaware and Spybot are our preferred tools. Unfortunately, a search for these programs on Google, or many other search engines, will point you towards imitators who may be actually causing more problems for your computer. Use the links to go to the legitimate sites.

As usual, our apologies to the callers who couldn’t get through. We expect the next Nightlife computer spot will be 10.15pm Friday, April 23. If you’d like to be kept up-to-date with our schedule please subscribe to our newsletter.
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ŠTechnology Publishing Australia, 2007