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Mini Network Security

I have a laptop that is my main pc, it has printer and peripherals attached. I have another 2 computers in the house that I want to be able to use the laptops printer and also transfer files between all. I currently have them all setup to do that. My concern is the security of the laptop when I travel etc.

I assume that when I'm hooked into an open wireless network others can look at my folders.....

It's only 5% of the time when I would be hooked into an open network, the rest of the time I'm in a password protected wireless network.

For someone who wants to keep it simple and dowsn't have great networking knowledge, is the easiest thing to do when I'm in an open environment, just untick file and printer sharing?

Thanks in advance, I have looked at a myriad of posts, but can't seem to see an easy answer in there!!
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Most Valuable Expert 2015
Yes, that is the easiest, just disable file and printer sharing...
Top Expert 2013
Looks like you are running XP. You can also enable the built-in Windows XP firewall (assuming you have installed SP2). When you enable file and print sharing the firewall will automatically create an exception for file and print sharing. When you are traveling you can disable all exceptions (i.e. block all access). If you use wired at home and wireless when away you can also customize the options per network adapter wired/wireless.

The firewall is enabled by going to control panel then windows firewall.
-on/off is on the main page
-exceptions configured on the exceptions page
-exceptions per device can be done on the advanced page.
Erik BjersPrincipal Systems Administrator
Don't use the built in firewall... it is not the best

try kaspersky internet security http://www.kaspersky.com/

This is the best AV/ Firewall I have ever used and should provide you all the security and protection you need.

They also have a 30 day trial so you can try it first.

I have to disagree to some extent with ebjers.  The built-in Windows XP firewall, while not as powerful or configurable as some third-party firewalls, will probably be perfectly fine for you (unless you are keeping documents on your laptop that are considered corporate trade secrets or are covered under National Security, etc.)  It may not be "the best", but it's actually pretty good (for a Microsoft product).

I'd go with the Windows Firewall, turn off all the exceptions, and just keep it turned off except when you need it.  Here's a link to a great little free utility that makes turning it on and off very easy:


Hope this helps, and no offense intended to ebjers.  (I haven't used Kaspersky much, but I've heard good things; I just think it's probably overkill in this situation.)
Erik BjersPrincipal Systems Administrator
Problems with XP firewall

Is XP Firewall Safe?... A One Way Firewall
The XP firewall filters traffic coming in to a computer, but won't stop information leaving our computer. So, if spyware, for instance, has infected our PC, the firewall won't prevent it sending our stolen information to a third party.

I could go on but no real need to.

If you do not have a network level firewall you never want to run your PC with the fireall off...

Kaspersky is a very effective security suite (it was designed mostly by ex KGB hackers) and uses very little system resources + it is updated hourley

I can see your point.  I generally keep my anti-virus and anti-spyware programs up to date, so I don't have to worry about malicious outbound traffic.  I also, like daskarzine mentioned in the original question, spend most of my time in protected networks.

(Oh, and about the  second link, regarding the flaw in Windows Firewall - that issue was fixed with an update over 2 years ago:  http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=478FD24B-B2C4-4207-B1B9-1C988698C888&displaylang=en)

The question asks for a simple solution to protect the files on the laptop from intrusion during the 5% of the time it's connected to public networks.

Solution 1 (ebjers):  purchase Kaspersky's suite for $79.95 and figure out how to set it up to suit your needs.

Solution 2 (RobWill):  configure the Windows Firewall settings to disable exceptions whenever you are going to connect to a public network.

Solution 3 (rindi):  disable File & Print Sharing when you are going to connect to a public network.

Solution 4 (TekServer):  Leave the Windows Firewall off (trusting the protection of your router's firewall), and turn it on with a simple utility when you are going to connect to a public network.

All of these are viable solutions.  If security is of paramount importance, and you don't mind spending a little money, go with Kaspersky.  If you want the simplest solution, I think that would be mine.

I offer the following analogy/anecdote:

Two hikers were hiking through the woods when they came across a large, angry bear.  Hiker 1 started to take off running, but Hiker 2 sat down briefly to slip on a pair of running shoes.
Hiker 1:  "What are you doing!?  You're never going to out run that bear, even with running shoes on!"
Hiker 2 (as he takes off running):  "I I don't have to out run the bear.  I just have to out run YOU."

The point being that you don't have to be "unhackable"; there is no such thing.  You only need to be a less visible, less inviting, and less accessible target than the next guy.

(Okay, I'm done.  I can't believe I find myself defending a Microsoft product.  I really have to get back to work now.)



Thanks for all your feedback. No-one would really go out of their way to hack into my computer, but as I use Kaspersky AV anyway, I upgraded to KIS and will work with that to see how it all goes!
Erik BjersPrincipal Systems Administrator

Thanks for the points and good luck


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