Hiding Your Shared Folders

Setting up user accounts with strong passwords and then applying shared-folder permissions on those accounts are the necessary network security tasks, and in most small networks they're also sufficient for achieving a decent level of security. However, when it comes to securing your network, a healthy dose of paranoia is another good "tool" to have at hand. For example, the properly paranoid network administrator doesn't assume that no one will ever infiltrate the network, just the opposite: The admin assumes that someday someone will get access, and then he or she wonders what can be done in that case to minimize the damage.

One of the first things these paranoid administrators do (or should do) is hide what's valuable, private, or sensitive. For example, if you have a shared folder named, say, Confidential Documents, you're simply begging a would-be thief to access that share. Yes, you could rename the share to something less inviting, but the thief may chance upon it anyway. To prevent this, it's possible to share a resource and hide it at the same time.

Even better, hiding a shared folder is also extremely easy to do: When you set up the shared resource, add a dollar sign ($) to the end of the share name. For example, if you’re setting up the Documents folder for sharing, you could use Documents$ as the share name. This prevents the resource from appearing in the list of resources when you open a remote computer from the Network window (or type net view \\computer at the command prompt, where computer is the name of the remote PC).

Bear in mind that although hiding shares will work for the average user, a savvy snoop will probably know about the $ trick. Therefore, you should set up your hidden shares with nonobvious names.

How do you connect to a hidden share? You need to know the name of the shared resource, of course, which enables you to use any of the following techniques:

  • Select Windows Logo+R (or select Start, All Programs, Accessories, Run) to open the Run dialog box, type the network path for the hidden resource, and click OK. For example, to display the hidden share Documents$ on OfficePC, you would enter this:
  • In a command prompt session, type start, a space, the network path, and then press the Enter key. For example, to launch the hidden share Documents$ on OfficePC, you would enter this:
    			start \\officepc\documents$		
  • Map the hidden share to a local drive letter. Click Start, right-click Network, and then click the Map Network Drive command. In the Map Network Drive dialog box, type the UNC path for the hidden share in the Folder text box.

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