Kill The Messenger (Service)
By Stephen Bucaro
You are familiar with the software applications that you run on your computer, but
you may not be familiar with the dozens of programs running in the background on your
computer. These programs, called "services" handle tasks like event logging, spooling
files to the printer, and networking. One of these services, the Messenger Service,
can be reconnoitered by spammers.
The original purpose of the Messenger Service was to allow system administrators to
send a message to some or all of the users on a network. The message appears in a
popup window to alert the users. Messenger Service is not instant-messaging. It does
not allow the users to respond.
All Windows versions install Messenger Service and turn it on by default. A program
freely available from the Internet allows spammers to control the Messenger Service
on hundreds of thousands of computers on the Web. Users receive popup spam windows
that are not generated by the website they are visiting.
If your computer is on a network behind a firewall, or you have a firewall application
installed on your computer, it can be configured to block access to the Messenger
Service. Most firewalls are configured by default to block access to the Messenger
Service. If not, configure your firewall to block port 135, the port used by Messenger Service.
Microsoft, in their ignorance of computer security, likes to leave "back doors" to your
computer open. But they finally wised up and Windows XP Service Pack 2 turns off the
Messenger Service. If you are running Windows XP, your best bet would be to install
Service Pack 2 to turn off the Messenger Service and close several other security holes.
If you are running Windows 2000, you can turn off the Messenger Service manually.
Select "Run..." in the Start menu and in the "Open:" text box type services.msc, then
click on the "OK" button. In the "Services" window that appears, right-click on
"Messenger". In the "Properties" dialog box that appears, click on the "Stop" button
and then in the "Startup Type" drop-down list select "Disabled". Then click on the "OK" button.
If you are running Windows NT, select "Services" in the "Adminstrative Tools" utility.
Then disable the Messenger Service as described above. If you are running Windows 95/98/Me,
you can't disable Messenger Service, you need to remove it. Use the "Add/Remove Programs"
utility in Control Panel to view the details of "System Tools". Uncheck the box next to "WinPopUp".
Now, with the Messenger Service on your computer disabled or removed, spammers will
have to go back to annoying you the old fashion way - with spam email.
More Windows Administration Information:
• Planning a Backup and Restoration of Files for Disaster Recovery
• How to Setup a VPN Between Two Computers
• Synchronize Your PC's Clock with an Internet Time Server
• Computer Technician's Guide to Dealing with Customers
• SMART Disk Drives Warn You Before They Fail
• Tweaks to Speed Up Internet Streaming Video
• Computer Technician's Guide to Safety
• Computer Data Backups - Test Now or Cry Later
• Common Issues With Windows Firewall
• Use Free Autoruns Utility to Disable Unnecessary Startup Programs