Friday, May 13, 2011

Is a Firewall Needed?

 Another question that is debated a lot is "Is a firewall necessary". In fact a quick web search leads to many different opinions. So I thought I would share a bit on my opinion on if I think a Firewall is needed or not.

 I think a simple way to put it is yes and no. I personally believe a Firewall is a good idea, but I also don't think you have to go and install one. One thing many people don't pay attention to is that Windows has a built in firewall, clearly named Windows Firewall. Windows Firewall provides pretty good in-bound protection and a little out-bound protection. Now some of you who know me may remember that I have said I am not a huge fan of Windows Firewall because it had caused me a few issues (blocking games from connecting due to a slow showing alert) but for everyday use Windows Firewall stays out of my way and does a good job. In fact on my family machines they barely notice that its there and the only time they have had to edit it is when they were attempting to allow networked computers to print).

 Another thing to remember is your network router most likely already has a firewall built in. The router firewall will block attacks before it even gets to your Windows machine. Plus it will help stealth your machine to hackers. The great part about these built in Firewalls you don't have to answer any questions. However the one weakness is they won't really provide outbound protection because they can't just popup and notify you.

 So as tech advances you should be well protected with random net attacks. I can not remember the last time I plugged in my computer directly into the net, plus I can not remember the last time I saw a Windows XP Sp1 machine. However there are some times when I will recommend you make sure your Firewall programs are running well, and if you want install another firewall to view connections. Finally here are a few tips:

 1. If you travel a lot and use public wifi connections. Public Wifi connections are sometimes not setup securely. If you have a Windows 7 machine and attempt to connect to a public wifi spot make sure you set your connection to untrusted when Windows asks you. If you are on an older version of Windows make sure you Windows Firewall is set at untrusted network connection so every machine and the network can not access your machine.

  2. Set a password on your home connection, don't let the whole community join your network and get access to your printer, your photos, you share music, and any other files you have shared though your network.

  3. This is one of the most important, use a firewall and make sure you are comfortable with it. If you feel better using Windows Firewall use it and make sure its on. If you prefer something else try something else. You have a lot of choices of Firewalls out there. ZoneAlarm has always been a pretty popular firewall for a lot of users, I also really liked PrivateFirewall last time I used it. Just make sure you like what you are using.

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