Static IPs are part of the persistent-connection problem, but Windows itself is also to blame. (Consumer editions of Windows, anyway--NT and Windows 2000 are a different game entirely.) Windows 95 and 98 are full of security gaps. Here are a few things you should do to close them up.
What To Do
Turn off file sharing if you don't need it. If you're not sharing files with other computers--usually you would do so over a home network--then disabling this feature closes up plenty of holes. To ensure file sharing is off, right-click Network Neighborhood and pick Properties. Click the button labeled "File and Print Sharing" and make certain that both boxes in the
resulting dialog box are unchecked.
Set up file sharing carefully if you need to use it. Right-click Network Neighborhood, choose Properties, and click "File and Print Sharing." Check the box next to "I want to give others access to my files." Next, pick or create a specific folder you'll let people access, such as c:\My Documents\Photos. In Windows Explorer, right-click the folder and pick Sharing from the context menu. In the dialog box that appears, click the radio button next to Shared As: and enter a name for the folder in the field to the right. (The name you choose is the name that will appear to those who browse the folder over the network or the Internet).
If you want people to be able to add, remove, or change documents in the folder, click the Full radio button under Access Type.
If you want people to be able only to copy or look at the files in the folder, click the Read Only radio button.
In either case, be sure to enter a password (no fewer than four and no more than eight characters) in the field at the bottom of the dialog box. The dialog box will allow you to click OK without your entering a password, but in that case, anybody who browses the folder will get access to the files inside.
Monitor your shared folders using the Windows Net Watcher utility. The app displays all the users currently connected to shared folders and lets you disconnect them if necessary. The utility isn't part of Windows 95 or 98's default installation, but you can install it from your Windows CD-ROM by following these steps:
1.Click Start, Settings, Control Panel and open Add/Remove Programs.
2.Click the Windows Setup tab. In Windows 98, scroll down the list of setup categories and double-click System Tools. In Windows 95, find and double-click Accessories.
3.Check the box next to Net Watcher, and click OK twice to exit the dialogs.
4.Windows will install Net Watcher. After your system's rebooted, choose Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Net Watcher to launch the utility.
Download system patches. Windows 98 users can head to the Windows Update Web site to automatically download security-related patches for their operating system. If you're still using Windows 95, you'll have to download each Security Update patch manually at the Windows 95 Downloads page.
Check your shields. After you've taken the steps above, the Shields UP! Web site (run by Gibson Research Corporation) can look at your connection to the rest of the world and let you know if any holes remain. Drop by and see if you have any further vulnerabilities. Shields UP! also contains some extremely in-depth advice regarding Windows networking settings.