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Issue #96: May 24, 2009

Q: I hope you can solve this problem I’m having with my proxy server.  When I turn on the computer and go online, I’m restricted from certain sites and get an error page.  The reason is in the Internet tools, a check appears in the box for proxy server.  Cox cable does not use a proxy server and I never had that problem until the last several months.  Each time I start the computer, I have to go into the Internet settings and take out the check mark next to “use proxy server”.  In the LAN settings it also has a local host 2323, which I remove, but then it’s back the next day.

– Dottie R.
Crestview, Fla.

A: I commend you for the amount of information you’ve gathered so far, Dottie.  Awareness of proxys and advanced LAN settings is well beyond what a typical computer user would normally know about.  While I can’t directly fix your problem for you, hopefully I can provide some insight, and steer you in the right direction.  First of all, a proxy server is a sort of go-between that sits between your computer and some network resource.  All traffic that normally goes to the network instead is routed to the proxy server, which then routes traffic to the network.  There are many legitimate uses for proxy servers, but I don’t think that’s what’s happening in your case.  Proxy servers can also act as eavesdroppers – monitoring and capturing information as it passes along network packets.  Imagine someone viewing the entire stream of data exchanged between you and the Internet, including all your passwords, account numbers, and other personal information!

To expand further on what you wrote, you probably meant “localhost::2323”.  Localhost (one word) literally means “this computer” and 2323 is a port number.  Port 2323 is used by a very obscure, but legitimate program.  However, when ports are redirected, the number is often altered from something like 23 to something like 2323.  Port 23 is used for FTP, which, if this is actually a Trojan horse program, could be an attempt to set up your computer to be remotely accessed or controlled.  I can’t say with any certainty that any of this is happening on your computer, but it sounds awfully suspicious, and is certainly worth investing some time and effort in anti-spyware scanning.

Hey loyal readers!  This little column is about to pass something of a milestone.  The June 19th edition will mark the 100th issue of It’s Geek to Me.  In celebration, I’m throwing a little contest.  It’s been my desire to have an official “It’s Geek to Me” logo, and maybe a catch-phrase to use on various promotional items such as business cards, letters and things I hand out at my personal appearances.  I’m a pretty good Geek, but I’m no artist.  Are you?  Submit your best logo, caricature, drawing, or whatever you think would best represent It’s Geek to Me, along with your idea for a catch-phrase or slogan.  The “It’s Geek to Me” Board of Directors will review the entries and choose our favorite from among them.  The winner will receive their entry printed on the very first run of “It’s Geek to Me” coffee mugs, can Koozies, or whatever else we decide to have printed up.  You’ll also receive the accolades and credit for your creativity, and have your name prominently featured in the column.  This offer void where prohibited, taxed, restricted, regulated, or otherwise infringed upon.  Entries must be made via e-mail at our regular address, and submitted before midnight, June 13th.  The winner will be announced in the June 19th issue, and prizes awarded as soon as I can get them fabricated.

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