Martin McKeay

Disabling Internet Connection Sharing

By Martin McKeay
November 01, 2006 9:02 AM EST
Yesterday's blog title, Knowing Enough to Get You in Trouble, turned out to be more appropriate than I could have thought.  A minor vulnerability in the Windows XP firewall was discovered, one that can only be exploited if the user has Internet Connection Sharing turned on and the attacker is in the internal network.  In the Computerworld article Tyler Reguly suggested that one solution to the issue is to turn off Internet Connection Sharing, by which he meant, go into the network connection and simplydeselect the Internet Connection Sharing box.  George Ou at ZDNet misunderstood the suggestion and ranted about how bad this advice was and how the article at needs to be fixed.

It's pretty obvious that there was a serious miscommunication happening here.  George somehow misread the article and assumed that Tyler was suggesting that users disable the Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing service, which would have the affect of disabling the firewall as well, exactly as George suggests.  But even his own readers were pointing out that the real fix is a simple, three-step process.  I will add that George also points out that one of the proper fixes to this situation is to go out and spend the money on a cheap router (are they really available for as little as $15 now?) to use as a NAT device rather than your computer.

I don't want to flame George, but he was wrong, combative and sensationalist.  Even when he was shown to be wrong, rather than apologize and admit to his mistake, he furthers his attack on the Computerworld article and Tyler Reguly.  His misunderstanding is explained as a flaw in Robert McMillan's writing rather than an error on George's part. I've never read George's writing before and maybe this is just his style, but I don't think I'll be reading it any time in the future.  I guess this is just one of the problems of the mixture of bloggers and journalists; as bloggers take on some of the more responsible aspects of journalists, journalists are taking on some of the more sensationalist aspects of bloggers.

My favorite comment to the whole thing was "the assumption that ICS and winXP firewall are useful alive than dead ... is flawed".  This whole thing really is a tempest in a teapot.  Go out and buy a cheap router if you need to share your Internet connection, this is one thing I think we can all agree on.