Friday, February 4, 2011

How control programs are call home on your PC

Anyone who uses the Internet should be aware of the constant danger of being infected by malware that stealthily connects to the Internet. Various types of Trojans and spyware can phone home and disclosure of personal information. Or infection can transform your computer into a zombie which is part of a network of zombie without your consent.

One way to protect against unwanted Internet activities is a two-way firewall that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic. However, many average PC users have a firewall that inspects incoming traffic only. There are also a variety of programs to analyze your network activity, but most of them requires a knowledge of networks that do not have the average PC user. Fortunately, there are some simple ways that anyone can use and this trick will discuss one of them. Does not require anything to be downloaded and installed, and the information provided is easy to interpret. It does not replace the more advanced methods, but provides useful information for users of all levels.

Using the command "netstat" to monitor Internet activity

All current versions of Windows are equipped with a range of network tools that run from the command line. (How to use the command line is discussed at this link)  One such tool is the "netstat" command has a number of network traffic analysis features.  More experienced users can read from "netstat" for a detailed analysis of the network in this reference.  This tip shows you a quick way and easy to use "netstat" to see what programs are connecting to the Internet:

Open a command prompt. For this trick, Windows 7/Vista requires administrator privileges (see this link), type "netstat-b" (without quotes)

You will see a list of executables that make connections to the Internet. You can also add a "no" to tell you what IP addresses are being contacted. Step 2 then becomes:

Enter "netstat-nl" (without quotes)

GUI for netstat

If you prefer a graphical interface for netstat limited, it is a free program, called TCPEye. It can be downloaded from Softpedia. It must be installed and has a few places, but has the advantage of real-time visualization.

Create a log of activity on the Internet with a batch file to netstat

Activities on the Internet is not static and that you want to access, for a period of time. Batch file to the netstat command to create a log are given in this reference.

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This section is maintained by Vic Laurie. VIC Windows runs a blog called the PC informant and also operates a computer training site.

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