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Did you ever wonder how you'd know if your firewall is doing the job? (You are using a firewall, right? No? Go here. Now.) In most cases you wouldn't know you didn't until it was too late - after an infection or compromise of some sort.

Steve Gibson's an internet security guru, and his site Gibson Research is coming to be known as the place for security tests and related utilities. His popular "Shield's Up" is an online test that will tell you exactly what your firewall may, or may not be protecting you from. He's also the author of what is arguably the best disk maintenance and recovery tool available: SpinRite.

I really have only two qualms about Steve and GRC:

  • the site can be a little difficult to navigate

  • Steve tends to use what I'd consider to be fairly alarmist wording. Things typically aren't as awful as his words might lead you to believe.

But don't let that get in the way ... in particular, visit that "Shield's Up" security checking tool. It's well worth a few minutes of your time to see just how vulnerable you may be. If you don't have a firewall, you may find yourself running out to get one soon after you run the tests.

SpinRite is also available at - it's a low level disk maintenance and recovery tool that, while not free, operates at a level lower than any other tool on the market and can often repair and recover hard disk contents resulting from a variety of failures.

Finally, Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte (the "other Leo") are the voices behind the incredibly educational and popular Security Now weekly podcast, which you'll also find archived on

Shield's Up, SpinRite, Security Now, a number of other free and useful utilities ... - I recommend it.

Article C2479 - December 2, 2005 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

allan levene
September 26, 2007 11:19 AM


Love the show. I got the TOR client running without any problem as I want to download and watch new BBC shows. They can only be downloaded if the client is in the UK. I thought TOR could solve that problem by having my U.S. address wormhole its way to England.

In spite of a lot of research, I cannot get the endpoint to be a specific TOR node via the config file; I keep coming out in Germany or Italy.


Robert Stanley
January 24, 2009 1:28 PM

I for some reason am not able to acess Gibson Research web page. I have used it in the past years with no problems and now all of a sudden I can not get IE nor Foxfire to open the web page. I have no problems with anyother web site.

William Evans
February 11, 2009 5:10 PM

Like Mr Stanley I, too, have been unable to access Shields Up! (an excellent resource) via IE (I live in the UK). The Shields Up! welcome page with my machine address appears but clicking 'proceed' to get to the test leads to my PC hanging indefinitely. This has been a problem for some six months or so. Ideas or suggestions, anyone, please?

William Wallace
April 23, 2009 10:38 AM

Having exactly the same problem opening GRC website - was fine - now will not open

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