Hi there markeeg!
The short answer is that it is very difficult to connect to someone's
PC without knowing their IP address. The internet is based on IP
communication, and trying to connect to a PC without knowing the IP,
is like trying to make a phonecall, without knowing the number to
It's not that simple however, as you have guessed - software could
already be installed on your computer which "phones home" when it is
connected to the internet, thus alerting someone to your new IP
address. Obviously, if someone has managed to install software on your
computer, they can have full control if they so desire.
Software for this purpose comes in many forms. The most simple, and
benign, is Microsoft Windows Remote Assistance, which comes installed
on some PCs running Windows XP. If you run XP, make sure this is
turned off by following the instructions at the link below:
Now you should attempt to close all programs that you are running,
especially including all the programs running in your system tray (the
little icons usually located in the bottom right, which can be turned
off by right clicking and choosing exit, quit, etc). Close as many of
these as you can.
Now you should disable file sharing, unless you run your PC on a home
or office network. Depending on which Windows you run, you'll need to
do one of the following:
Instructions for Windows 95, 98, ME:
Instructions for Windows 2000, XP:
Now it's time to run a virus scanner over your system. There are some
remote control and administration programs which are considered
malicious because they can be installed stealthily, and as such, virus
scanners will detect these (any others should have exited when you
closed all the programs you were running). If you have a scanner
already, start that up, and make sure to run its update function.
Virus scanners need to be updated at least weekly, if not daily, so if
it's not that up to date, consider it very primitive.
If you don't already have a virus scanner, there's a free one which
runs from inside Internet Explorer, created by Trend Micro, available
If this detects anything, make sure to take a note of what it finds.
Since it is only a simple scanner, it may not be able to remove any
problems it finds - if it does not offer removal instructions, then
you may wish to purchase a fully fledged virus scanner for future
protection - there's a good list here:
Next, we'll move on to spyware and adware. Programs in this category
typically get installed when browsing a webpage through Internet
Explorer. A window will pop up, and ask you to install an ActiveX
control. If you click yes (on purpose or by mistake) then you may well
have installed something which monitors everything you do.
To remove these, you'll need an antispy tool - luckily, there are many
good ones available for free - take your pick from the following page.
I personally have had good experiences with Ad-aware and SpyBot S&D,
but do go ahead and try plenty!
Again, after running these, make sure to take a note of anything
At this point, if neither the virus or antispy utilities have reported
anything amiss, then you may be fairly sure that your computer is not
Computer security is an ongoing battle though, and keeping your virus
scanner, spyware tool(s), and operating system up to date are
essential. To make sure Windows is in tip top condition, make sure you
regularly visit the Windows Update site, and install all the patches
marked as "Critical":
Hopefully, you'll now either be aware of any problems, or, even
better, have peace of mind that your computer is secure!
I hope this answers your question! If anything's unclear though,
please do feel free to use the "request clarification" feature before
rating this answer.
All the best,
turn off file sharing
Clarification of Answer by
29 Jun 2003 13:49 PDT
Remote Assistance is a feature recently added to Windows, to enable
remote administrators to take control of someone's computer - perhaps
to perform maintenance tasks too complex for the user to manage
themselves. When running, it allows the person who connected absolute
control over your computer - they can move the mouse pointer, read
files, and so forth. In itself, it is not a stealthy program - you do
need to authorize connection requests before it surrenders control of
your computer to a remote agent, so you would have seen an incoming
request. I was more concerned about it being used in conjunction with
some more malign software, which is why it's very important to get
those virus scan and antispy tools in action.
However, if you never plan to use it, it's probably prudent to switch
off the service completely. Here's how to do that:
Click on Start, then Run, and enter the text exactly as it appears on
the following line:
Click "OK", and you should see a window come up marked "Services".
Scroll down to "Remote Desktop Help Session Manager", and right click
on it. On the properties sheet which appears, change the "Startup
type" to "Disabled", and click the "Stop" button if it is highlighted.
Click "OK", and Remote Assistance should be deactivated completely.
I hope that makes sense!
In the meantime, please do take the time to run the antivirus and
antispy tools - if anyone has installed anything malicious on your
computer, these are the options most likely to detect it.
All the best,