Oct 25

Computer Ports: Their Purpose and Dangers

Ports: Their Purpose and Dangers
A port can be defined as a connection point used by software to exchange data. Two of the most common examples of computer ports are TCP and UDP ports. Both of these ports are used to exchange data among computers on the internet. In this paper I will talk briefly about a few select UDP and TCP ports including the purpose for each port, the dangers of having these ports open and how to close these and other computer ports.
The select ports I have chosen to talk about are 137, 138, 139 and 445. Ports 137-139 and 445 are SMB (Server Message Block) ports. They are all used for file and printer sharing. In Windows NT, the SMB protocol ran on top of NetBIOS and in Windows XP/2000/2003, it was made possible to run SMB directly over TCP/IP without the additional layer of NetBT. This is where port 445 replaced 137-139.
Open ports can be dangerous because they are possible back doors into your computer. By keeping these ports open you’re leaving your computer open to any knowledgeable hacker. I would recommend scanning your computer with “Shields Up” (http://www.grc.com/default.htm) to see if these, as well as any other ports are open on your machine.
While Shields Up is an amazing tool for scanning your systems vulnerabilities, it can not close the ports for you. Shields Up does however give you steps on how to close certain ports as well as precautionary measures to avoid closing ports that may have needed to stay open. The best way to find out how to close specific ports on your machine is by doing a search on www.Google.com. For example if the port is 445 that you would like to close, type something along the lines of “how to close port 445” and then follow that by typing your current operating system. There is no single way to close a dangerous port. Each port you need closed may have its own set of directions to close it.

Mathew Gajewski

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