Jewish World Review June 9, 2004 / 20 Sivan, 5764

Software shield easily thwarts port scanners; WordPerfect 8.0 documents keeps being corrupted; more

By James Coates | (KRT) Q. I've been getting port scan attacks (up to three a day) from the same party. It began a few months ago, after I reformatted my hard drive, reinstalled the software and added McAfee Professional VirusScan and firewall.

I've traced the attacks back to the Internet provider and the user name. I contacted the Internet provider and asked that they take action to stop these attacks. A manager at the ISP went to great lengths to assure me that the port scan attacks were harmless and not to be concerned.

I'm very concerned in these days of virtual fraud and identity theft. Do I have a valid reason to be concerned, and if so can you suggest a way to stop these attacks?

Dale L.

A. If you want to take this up further I'll tell you how to find the person or company that is bothering you through an Internet tool called Whois.

But first a word of reassurance.

Even though you don't exactly know who is behind those port scan attacks it really doesn't matter. They are gnats and you're behind a steel door.

That Internet service provider is correct in saying that nothing can hurt you as long as you have your firewall shield activated with the McAfee software you installed. I urge people to go a step further and activate the firewall built in to Windows XP even if they buy outside protection like McAfee, Zone Alarm or Symantec, etc.

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To activate the Windows firewall, right-click on the Network Places icon and pick Properties. This displays icons for your Internet connection, such as a LAN or a wireless link. Right-click on your Internet connection and pick Properties again. Now open the Advanced tab and you will find the check box to invoke the Windows Firewall.

Firewalls shut down all of one's vulnerable ports, which means that your machine will block all of the seething probes from hackers, hobbyists and hustlers that knock on every door (port) they can find.

Advanced firewall software like you are using can be set to ask a user whether they want to open a port in response to a scan from a given source. That is how you spotted the outfit that is sending a so-called ping to your computer's address to see if anybody is home.

You are locked down tight, so relax, Mr. J.

Since you know where the scan is coming from, you can use the Whois service to gather data on whomever registered the address of your prober and pursue things further.

Go to and click on the Whois option at the top of the page. This will take you to a service where one can type in a domain name and obtain the address that the owner gave when he or she purchased that identity.

For example, by typing in you can get the contact information, street address and even the identities of the server computers it uses.

Q. A number of WordPerfect 8.0 documents that I use at work have suddenly become corrupted. This includes backups saved on CDs, so I really need to find a solution.

Starting about a month or so ago, when I open a file I get a "Convert File Format from WP 4.2" message and a drop-down menu. I have never had WP 4.2 installed and the file won't open. The list of conversions does not show WP 8 or anything I can convert to.

I hope that you can give me a clue.

John C.

A. Your best hope lies in a tool that has become mighty popular among the substantial community of office workers who use WordPerfect instead of Microsoft Word. The tool is called WordPerfect 8 Restore, or wp8rest.exe.

It was designed recently by programmers at Corel, the WordPerfect home base, to help people recover files that became unreadable when the password information protecting them became garbled.

Delighted customers soon learned that this program can be used to fix a great number of corrupted files, and the word spread among the small but devoted WP user groups.

The drill for acquiring the repair module is a bit more complex than just going to a Web site because one needs to use the FTP tool to download the code.

Open your Web browser and go to n/8/wp8rest .exe and you'd be given a choice to save the file wp8rest.exe. Point the box to your desktop and select Save. Now go to the desktop and click on the wp8rest.exe icon to run the software. This will create another program in a folder on your C drive called pwdfix.

Click on My Computer and then the C drive icon and open the pwdfix folder and click on the repair tool icon. This will summon a display that lets you point to those problem files and restore them to uncorrupted status.

Q. I have an old NEC APIV computer running on DOS 3.5 with files dating from 1986 to 2002, when it was replaced with a Dell computer running Windows XP Professional. There is supposed to be an icon for bringing up DOS 10.0 in the XP Professional program. This was apparently shown in the "Dummies" books, but I have not been able to find either the icon among the XP icons nor a way to enter or leave that DOS system so that I can retrieve and transfer my old files to the XP computer.

It is traumatic enough to go from DOS 3.5 to Windows XP Professional, but how do I get to use 16 years of old files on the new computer?

Robert Hopp

A. May I call you Rip Van Hopp, Mr. H? I'll bet you could gather everybody who ever made that exact jump in a phone booth (you remember phone booths, I assume).

Nothing ever seems as simple as it sounds when dealing with Microsoft software, but let me give you a quick fix first and then explain the gray areas.

As your Dummies book says, there is supposed to be an icon for the Command Prompt under the Accessories menu after one clicks on the Start button. If yours is missing you can still open the DOS window using the Run command that comes up when one clicks Start in Windows XP.

In Run, type command and you'll get a conventional looking DOS window that accepts text commands instead of mouse movements to open, save and transfer your 16 years of past work files.

The Command Prompt isn't really DOS, but it emulates DOS within the Windows XP operating system.

Another type of Command Prompt window can be opened by typing cmd in the Run window. Unlike DOS, the cmd window lets one run many Windows features with text commands and is mainly used by technical support people in lieu of mouse commands.

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James Coates is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Let us know what you think of this column by clicking here.



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