HOW TO SECURE Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003, & VISTA - Page 2
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Thread: HOW TO SECURE Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003, & VISTA

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    STEP #2 - Reducing # of Network Clients & Protocols

    IF you have a HOME LAN/network?

    You skip this/leave this alone & do not disable the SERVER service (it creates the hidden default C$ administrative share for example) in services.msc & keep (the default lone entry it has) in your %windir%\system32\drivers\etc HOSTS file as well.

    2.) Disable Microsoft "File & Print Sharing" as well as "Client for Microsoft Networks" in your LOCAL AREA CONNECTION (if you do not need them that is for say, running your home LAN)!

    E.G.-> Here? I pull ANY Networking clients (Client for MS Networks/File & Printer Sharing)) &/or Protocols (QoS = just 1 example) in the Local Area Connection!

    (That is, unless its for an antivirus & their Layered Service Provider hacks, such as Trend Micro use here, or more "hidden ones" like NOD32 or NAV use)

    So, other than Tcp/IP typically, it gets removed!

    (I also disable NetBIOS over Tcp/IP as well if you don't have a HOME or WORK LAN as well, because I don't need it here, as I am currently @ home on a stand-alone machine that is not dependent on Microsoft's File Sharing etc. on a LAN/WAN).

    Stopping the SERVER service helps here as well (no shares possible, not even the default C$ administrative share, iirc)

    Also regarding the HOSTS file? IF you have a LAN/WAN you use (or not), you will have to have the mandatory entry of: localhost

    In it (needed for networking with a LAN/WAN - you could technically, dispense with it otherwise, but, as you can see above? It has practical uses... even SpyBot utilizes it & that is one HELL of a program, for this purpose:SECURITY!).


  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    STEP #3 - IP Security Policies usage

    3.) Use IP security policies (modded AnalogX one, very good for starters, you can edit & add/remove from it as needed) - Download url link is here for that:

    (Search "AnalogX Public Server IPSec Configuration v1.00 (29k zip file)" on that page & follow the directions on the page!)

    NOTE: This can be 'troublesome' though, for folks that run filesharing clients though.

    An alternative to this is using IP Ports Filtrations, in combination with a GOOD software firewall &/or NAT 'firewalling' (or true stateful inspection type) router. All of these work in combination w/ one another perfectly.

    (HOWEVER - Should you choose to use it, and do filesharing programs? No problem really, because you can turn them on/off @ will using secpol.msc & the IP stack in Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003/VISTA is of "plug-N-play" design largely, & will allow it & when done? TURN THEM ON, AGAIN! These work WITH software & hardware router firewalls, IP port filtering, and security IP policies, simultaneosly/concurrently, for "layered security", no hassles!).

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    STEP #4 - IP Ports Filtrations

    4.) Another thing I do for securing a Windows NT-based OS: IP Port Filtrations (like ip security policies (per AnalogX above), it is often called the "poor man's firewall" & works perfectly with both IPSecurity policies, hardware AND software firewalls, all in combination/simultaneously running)!


    Start Menu -> Connect To Item (on the right hand side) -> Local Area Connection (whatever you called it, this is the default, iirc) open it via double click OR, right-click popup menu PROPERTIES item -> Properties button on left-hand side bottom, press/click it -> NEXT SCREEN (Local Area Connection PROPERTIES) -> "This connection uses the followng items" (go down the list, to Tcp/IP & select it & /click the PROPERTIES button there) -> Press/Click the Advanced Button @ the bottom Right-Hand Side (shows Advanced Tcp/IP Settings screen) -> OPTIONS tab, use it & Tcp IP Filtering is in the list, highlite/select it -> Beneath the Optional Settings, press/click the PROPERTIES button on the lower right-hand side -> Check the "Enable Tcp/IP Filtering (on all adapters)" selection -> In the far right, IP PROTOCOLS section, add ports 6 (tcp) & 17 (udp) -> In the far left "tcp ports" list - check off the radio button above the list titled "PERMIT ONLY", & then add ports you want to have open (all others will be filtered out, & for example, I leave port 80,8080, & 443 here open, only on my standalone, non-networked home machine (for a HOME or WORK LAN, you may need to open up ports 135/137/139/445 for a Windows based network for file & print sharing PLUS enable NetBIOS over Tcp/IP in your network connection properties & ENABLE Client for Microsoft Networks & File and Print sharing too) - you may need more if you run mail servers, & what-have-you (this varies by application)) -> I leave the UDP section "PERMIT ALL" because of ephemeral/short-lived ports usage that Windows does (I have never successfully filtered this properly but it doesn't matter as much imo, because udp does not do 'callback' as tcp does, & that is why tcp can be DDOS'd/DOS'd imo - it only sends out info., but never demands verification of delivery (faster, but less reliable)) -> DONE!

    You may need a reboot & it will signal if it needs it or not (probably will, even in VISTA):

    I say this, because although IP Security Policies work with the "Plug-N-Play" design of modern Windows NT-based OS' (ipsec.sys) & do NOT require a reboot to activate/deactivate them in Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003/VISTA? This is working @ a diff. level & diff. driver iirc (tcpip.sys) & level of the telecommunications stacks in this OS family & WILL require a reboot to take effect (for a more detailed read of this, see here):

    (In THAT url above? Trust me - Enjoy the read, it is VERY informative: That article shows you how TcpIP.sys, ipnat.sys, ipsec.sys, & ipfiltdrv.sys interact, PLUS how you can use them to your advantage in security!)


  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    STEP #5 - CUSTOM HOSTS FILES Bpeed & Security Benefits

    5.) The use of a CUSTOM ADBANNER BLOCKING HOSTS FILE (my personal one houses, as of this date, 90,000 known adbanner servers, OR sites known to bear malicious code & exploits (per GOOGLE mostly, from

    Custom HOSTS files work in combination with Opera adbanner blocks & the usage of .PAC filering files + cascading style sheets for this purpose.

    (As well as speeding up access to sites I often access - doing this, acting as my own "DNS Server" more or less, is orders of magnitude faster than calling out to my ISP/BSP DNS servers, waiting out a roundtrip return URL-> IP Address resolution. It may take some maintenance for this @ times, especially if sites change HOSTING PROVIDERS, but this is a rarity & most sites TELL YOU when they do this as well, so you can make fast edits, as needed (and, on Windows NT-based OS since 2000/XP/Server 2003 & VISTA? A reboot is NOT required upon edits & commits of changes in the new largely near fully PnP IP stacks!))

    For a copy of mine, write me, here ->

    And, I will send it to you in .zip or .rar format (with sped up sites # UNIX comment symbol disabled, enable the ones you use AFTER you 'ping' them first from my list, & add ones YOU PERSONALLY USE to it as needed after determining their IP address via a PING of them)


    An example of WHY you'd want to use one of these for security's sake? Read here:

    DIRECTIONS FOR USE (also in my downloadable CUSTOM HOSTS file above, with MORE on how to really use them to get even more speed than blocking adbanners mind you is in its internal documentation):

    You replace your:


    Original version of HOSTS with this one (overwrite it, but, first copy your original OR rename it to keep it around IF ever needed), & have @ it (HBO internet, no commercials + thus MORE SPEED (and, you WILL notice it) by not calling out to ad servers, loading their data, & running it... & certainly NO possibility of being infected by adbanners that bear RBN (Russian Business Network) malware javascripted/FLASH bearing adbanners that infect you as has been seen lately/very currently in fact - between this, and stalling out Java/JavaScript + ActiveX/ActiveScripting globally in your browsers as noted in the last step & why? You are "proof" against MOST attacks today (& consider disabling IFrames too, an oft used attack today as well!)).

    Now, like I do? It IS possible to alter the default location of the HOSTS file, & to take away I/O from your main disk to load it by using another one... like a 2nd HDD you may have IF you have one for example!

    (E.G.-> I move mine to my CENATEK RocketDrive SSD (solid state RamDisk), for F A S T access since seek times on it are 1000's of times faster than on std. mechanical disks, & doesn't matter WHAT kind - & here I also place my pagefile.sys on its own partition (first) & then webpage caches, %temp% environmental variable ops, logging (even eventlogs, which like HOSTS file, can be moved in the registry to another disk, & applications often have the ability to move their logs in their configuration screens as well)) via this registry key, should you elect to do the same:

    In regedit.exe's right-hand-side pane, follow this path:


    & in the left-hand-side pane of regedit.exe, you change the DataBasePath path value there to the disk & folder you wish to place your HOSTS file in (which makes for faster OS & IP stack initialization since it is on another drive, in my case an SSD so it is THAT MUCH QUICKER since seeks on them are so fast, to load the HOSTS data into your RAM (local DNS cache)).


  5. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    STEP #6 - Registry hacks for BOTH Speed, & Security

    6.) USE Tons of security & speed oriented registry hacks (reconfiging the OS basically - stuff like you might do in etc / conf in UNIX/LINUX I suppose)

    Download them from here @ SOFTPEDIA (where they are rated 4/5):

    OR, just email me here for them ->

    (The email option's the best, because I also have these PREBUILT, in .reg files, mind you, available by email, BUT, the ones I can mail ARE FULLY INTERNALLY DOCUMENTED!)

    They are FULLY documented internally, with link url's to the Microsoft pages they came from, inside the .reg files, so YOU can look at what the hack does inside them, verify this @ MS, & know what the valid parameters are as well!

    (This? It took me FOREVER a year or so ago to do this, but worth it!)

    The urls, or downloadable .mht files, outline it all (as do my prebuilt .reg files, probably the BEST choice of the lot imo), as to what you can ".reg file hack" for better SPEED, and SECURITY online, in a modern Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003 OS & has references from Microsoft in it for each setting plus their definitions & parameters possible!


  6. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    STEP #7 - Registry & FileSystem ACL (access control list) control & Security Policies

    7.) USE General security policies (in gpedit.msc/secpol.msc - afaik though, these are NOT in XP "Home" edition, sorry)), these are VALUABLE tools (and will be needed & suggestions for it will be told to you by the CIS Tool noted above - great stuff!) and regedit.exe!

    (Newly added - regedit.exe use is for registry ACL permissions, via its EDIT menu, PERMISSIONS submenu item (to add/remove users that have rights to regisry hives/values, & to establish their rights levels therein))

    ALSO NEWLY ADDED - Explorer.exe "right-click" on drive letters/folders/files (for file access ACL permissions hardening) using its popup menu selection of "PROPERTIES", & in the next screen, the SECURITY tab (to add/remove users that have rights to said items, & to establish their rights levels therein), also - this is another requirement of CIS Tool 1.x & its suggestions for better security.


  7. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    STEP #8 - OS & APP patches, + AntiVirus/AntiSpyware/AntiRootkit tools

    8.) KEEP UP ON PATCHES FROM MICROSOFT, for your OS & Microsoft Office Apps, & IE, etc., HERE (ordered by release date) and run AntiVirus/AntiSpyware/AntiRootkit tools (& yes, keep them updated/current)!

    Again, keep up on antivirus/antispyware/antirootkit AND Java runtimes updates!

    (Done either automatically via their services, or manually)

    Download them manually & install them yourself (OR just let "Windows Automatic Updates" run)

    ALSO - do the use of the "std. security stuff", like:

    AntiVirus Programs
    (NOD32 latest 2.7x - "best" one there is, all-around (best speed/efficiency, less "moving parts" in drivers (kernelmode-RPL0-Ring 0 portion) & services/gui usermode-RPL2-Ring3 sections + great consistent showings in detect rates, especially heuristics), & that is not only MY opinion after testing it vs. my former fav. NAV Corporate 10.2 (it is lighter in RAM & resource uses than NAV Corporate even, finds more virus' than others, & uses less "moving parts" (in the way of services componentry, than most do, & certainly less than NAV))

    Proof? See here ->

    (That's a single source, there are others, such as, which also test & compare AntiVirus products out there as well on many levels (mostly detection rates). The URL above goes into more than that, such as program speed/efficiency/throughput, & the fact NOD32 is written almost TOTALLY in pure Assembler language (when, if coupled with a solid fast algorithm/engine, is untouchable even by C/C++ or Delphi even for that)).


    SpyBot (Ad-Aware is another option) as my resident antispyware tool running in the background!

    This tool in SPYBOT also installs & runs PERFECTLY in safemode (combined with ComboFix &/or SmitfraudFix, you can "burn out" just about ANY spyware/malware infestation in 30-60 minutes, depending on level of infection, speed of your disks/CPU/RAM, & amount of files on your disks - A good antivirus (See NOD32 above, best there is on speed/efficiency, resource consumption, & accuracy) alongside it plus vendor specialized "removal tools" is all a body needs (mostly) when infected.

    AntiRootkit tools are another one to be conscious of nowadays, now that such machinations are available for Windows (they originated, afaik, in the UNIX world though).

    The "best ones" (AntiRootkit scanners) & their download URL links are:

    AVG AntiRootkit
    BitDefender AntiRootkit
    Rootkit Revealer
    PrevX AntiRootkit
    Rootkit Hook Analyzer
    Sophos AntiRootkit
    F-Secure Blacklight
    Gromozon Rootkit Removal Tool
    McAfee Rootkit Detective
    System Virginity Verifier for Windows 2000/XP/2003

    That is a list for you all to choose from, look them up on GOOGLE to download them from their homepages, as they all do a decent enough job though, & are 100% FREE - SO, DO use them!


  8. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    STEP #9 - Web Browser "isolation" techniques, & tools

    9.) It is also possible, for webbrowsers &/or email clients, to create a "VISTA LIKE IE 7 Protected Mode"-like type scenario, isolating them into their own spaces in memory, here are 2 methods, how (not needed on VISTA though, afaik):

    IE6/7 & FF + OPERA AS WELL (as noted by A/C slashdot poster in reply to my methods, both his & my own work well, & are listed here @ /. (slashdot)) on modern NT-based OS "how-to":

    MY METHOD for RUNNING IE in a "runas limited user class" sandbox effect:

    "It is actually possible to run IE securely: just create a throwaway restricted user account for IE use alone. The restricted account user can't install software and can't access files of other users, so even if IE autoexecutes any nastiness, it can't do any damage.

    Of course, it's a hassle to log in as a different user just to browse the web. So we'd want to use "runas" to run just IE as a different user.

    Unfortunately, MS has made running IE as a different user a little harder than necessary. Rightclicking and using "Run as" doesn't seem to work. What did work for me was the following.

    Say the limited account is called "IEuser". Then create a shortcut to "runas /user:IEuser cmd". on your desktop. Double-clicking this will open a command prompt that runs as IEuser. Now you can manually start IE with "start iexplore". Or create a batchfile c:windowsie.bat that just contains the line "start iexplore" and you can start IE by just typing "ie". Remove all shortcuts to IE from you normal desktop and only run it from the restricted account. This way you can use IE without worry about any IE exploits"



    See section: Do-It-Yourself: Implementing Privilege Separation. Using the psexec tool as described results in a "clean" process tree where iexplore.exe will show up directly under the root avoiding beeing a child process.

    Note - The "invisible thing"? She's "Yuriko DeathStrike" as far as I am concerned... Joanna Rutkowska, my fellow "Polish Person" & she's a regular "wonder" in the security/hacking/cracking world!

    This is my runopera.bat which runs opera as user internet:
    psexec.exe -d -u internet -p p4ssw0rd "cmd" "/d /D /c start /b Opera.exe"

    PLUS, Windows Server 2003 has a hardened IE6/7 by default (which can be duplicated on other Win32 OS versions, because it mainly just does what I have been doing for a long time & noted by myself earlier, in stuff like turning off ActiveX & scripting + JAVA online on the public internet, of all types by default, & I do this in ALL of my browsers (IE, FF, & Opera) & only make exceptions for CERTAIN sites)


    (Per "OILY 17" (TPU forums user) suggestion, to aid in automating this (a tool)):

    "For running IE,Firefox etc as a throw away account has anyone tried this app out yet.Recently came across it, but have not tried it out yet.
    Anyone any views?

    As the name suggests runs IE etc in a sand box effect."

    Thanks oily (apk) - RECENT UPDATE: I've tried "sandboxie" & understand the layered filtering driver it employs for writes (ignores reads from main HDD) & it IS a great idea, + it works!


  9. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    STEP #10 - Email practices, & COMMON-SENSE!

    10.) Plus good email client practices like using .txt mail only, no RTF or HTML mail, not opening or allowing attachments unless I know the person & even THEN, scan it with an antivirus (still gets email scanned though by your resident antivirus email scan component (use AntiVirus programs with these, OR, manually scan ANY attachments before opening them (if you get Microsoft Office .doc, .xls, .ppt etc. files uncompressed? HOLD DOWN THE SHIFT KEY AS YOU OPEN THEM - this stops macros from running & macros are the avenue utilized using VBA script to infect you))


  10. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    STEP #11 - NAT "firewalling" & true stateful packet inspecting routers

    11.) I also use a LinkSys/CISCO BEFSX41 "NAT" true firewalling CISCO technology-based router (with cookie & scripting filtering built-in @ the hardware level), these are excellent investments for security.


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