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File sharing with Windows XP

A new feature in Win XP can be a security issue, especially if you are sharing files with others.

The Windows XP Operating System has many enhanced security features over its predecessor. One example of this is the built-in personal firewall. But one of the new features can turn out to be security issue, especially if you are on a network and sharing files with others, making them available to everyone in the workgroup.

That enhancement is the Shared Documents folder. This folder appears in "My Computer" located on the desktop. Essentially it is a pointer to another area on the disk, and it contains files that are, by default, shared with others on the network and can be shared with others on the Internet.

This may not be too much of a concern if you have a standalone workstation, but if your computer is part of a Workgroup, the security implications are obvious. As you know, when file sharing is enabled and not properly protected, you are welcoming unwanted access to your network. If you feel that this can be a security issue to your network, you can remove the shared documents folder by performing the following:

  • Run regedit
  • Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindows CurrentVersionPoliciesExplorer
  • In the right pane right-click and select New>DWORD Value
  • Name the new value NoSharedDocuments
  • Double-click this new value and enter 1 as its Value data
  • Close the registry editor
  • Restart Windows for the changes to take effect.

Alternatively, double click on My Computer, and then right click on the Shared Documents folder. Select Sharing, and reset the defaults to disable sharing of the folder and contents, if you don't want to delete the folder altogether.

About the author

Adesh Rampat has 10 years of experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association of Internet Professionals, the Institute for Network Professionals and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.


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