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How Important is a Firewall

The job of a computer firewall is to build a barrier against unauthorized connections to and from a computer or network. All networks or computers need a firewall. It isn't ok to assume you are 100% safe just by having a spyware and antivirus software installed. Even a combination of the perfect antivirus, spyware, and firewall can't make your computer impervious to attack. They can only make attacking difficult, and thus, discourage potential attackers.

Firewall in Windows

Always enable the OS firewall on your computer. Since the job of the firewall is to prevent a computer from connecting to and from a network, sometimes you will need to exempt a program from connecting to a network. To do this, you will need to click on start -> control panel -> system and security. Click on 'Allow a program through Windows Firewall'. If prompted provide your password to continue.

There are three tabs on the Windows Firewalls Settings dialog box and they are General, Exceptions, and Advanced. Click on 'General' to turn off or turn on the firewall. The 'Exceptions' allow you to create an exception for a program. The 'Advanced' tab lets you pick the connection you would like the firewall to manage.

Often times, when you run a program for the first time, you will be prompted when the program tries to make a connection outside of the network. At this point, you can allow or deny the program or service an exception to the firewall.

Types of Firewalls

There are two types of firewalls. We have the host-based firewall such as Microsoft's Internet Security Acceleration (ISA) Server, and network firewalls such as Alteon. Depending on if a firewall comes in software or hardware form, we have software-based and hardware-based firewall.

A host-based firewall is the one that is computer specific, whereas a network-based firewall is build to protect an organization's network. Both the network-based and host-based firewalls are important.

Modern Day Hacking and Firewalls

The nature of computer attacks, today, makes it necessary for an organization to deploy both the host-based and network firewall. If a hybrid worm manages to compromise the network firewall, to keep the worm from spreading to all computers, you need host-based firewalls on each individual PC. This is why both types of firewalls are important. Large companies usually setup double-layer security.

The majority of hacking is done by malicious software. Hacking is far more than a group of people trying to guess login passports. Today, what the majority of hackers do is to use tools to do the job. This software gains entry to a computer and immediately tries to attack as many computers as possible by using the infected machine as a base.

Fortunately, all Windows operating systems come with firewall. Before Windows XP, users have had to enable the firewall themselves. Newer Windows versions such as Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, all have their firewalls enabled by default.

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