Handle the heat

Many people recycle paper, bottles and cans, so why not recycle your old PC as well? Stay tuned as Windows shows you how to turn your aging desktop into a firewall...

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  February 1, 2006

|~||~||~|Getting started... First connect your old PC to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Once you’re in Windows, wipe out any old and unnecessary software. Next, connect your machine to your home network. To do this, simply connect your PC via a CAT 5 network cable to your hub or switch. Now assign your old PC an IP address that fits with the rest of your network. For instance, if you're using an IP address such as 192.168.0.1 on your current machine, assign your old PC 192.168.0.2. Also check that all your PCs are on the same subnet mask such as 255.255.255.0. Next, it’s time to set-up Windows XP’s Remote Desktop tool. This allows you to use the PC without needing to connect a keyboard, mouse and monitor to it. To do this, right-click on My Computer and navigate to Properties. Next, click on the Remote tab and under the Remote Desktop section check the ‘Allow users to remotely connect to this computer’ option. Now reconnect your monitor to your new PC and launch the Remote Desktop tool by going to Start/Programs/ Accessories/Communication. Just type in the IP address of your future firewall PC, and enter the user name and password you use on that machine to log into Windows. Fire IT up The next step involves downloading a reliable firewall. We suggest using the free version of ZoneAlarm, available at www.zonealarm.com. By installing a firewall app on a separate PC you’re essentially creating a wall between you and a hacker. Therefore, if a hacker wants to access your data they will have to break into the firewall PC first in order to get to your data. Another plus is that it improves your current PC’s performance as there‘s no firewall app using system resources. Before installing ZoneAlarm on your PC, make sure that the firewall built into Windows XP is turned off. Never use two software firewalls at the same time, as this causes conflicts between the two, which leads to issues connectiing to the internet and errors. Once you've installed the utility, start ZoneAlarm and click the 'Firewall' tab. Then set the security mode. If you set the mode to 'High', your internet connection will be in stealth mode, which means you can't play online games or share any files. The next mode is Medium, which makes your PC visible online but stops users from accessing online resources. The 'Low' setting turns the firewall off. Next, set the Trusted Zone security settings. To add zones to the your 'Trusted Zone' list, click the 'Zones' tab, then 'Add', and choose the web site, IP address or subnet in question. All traffic sources not listed in the 'Trusted Zone' go in the 'Internet Zone' by default. Next, go to File Menu/ Program Control to view a list of all the programs that have tried to access your machines, or the internet along with the permissions that were granted. To change the permission of a program, simply click the 'X', 'Y' or '?' and change it. If you choose 'Y', ZoneAlarm will allow that program to use your internet or network. Watch your back While you might be tempted to delete logs of ZoneAlarm's activities, they are worth keeping as they are a valuable source of information. With them you'll be able to track-down and troubleshoot problems such as programs not being able to access the internet or network intrusions. If a hacker is trying to break into your network for example, ZoneAlarm will sound a security alert, which will feature all the intruder's details. The app will also ask you if you wish to Allow or Deny a particular request. This is particularly useful if you’re away from your PC and wish to keep track of the activity that took place while you were away. To activate alerts, go to the ZoneAlarm’s File Menu, click Alerts and Logs and select On.||**||

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