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FAQ – Firewall

What is a firewall?

A firewall is a machine or a software program that prevents unauthorized access to private data (as on a local area network, an intranet, or a personal computer) by outside computer users (as those on the Internet).  A firewall ideally can completely isolate your computer from the Internet using software code that inspects all the data coming to and leaving from your computer.

Home Computer Network -> Personal Firewall -> The Internet

There are two types of firewalls:

  1. A machine that is specifically structured to guard a large network of computers.
  2. A software program designed for use on a smaller scale, to protect a single computer or a small number of machines.

This second category, called a personal firewall, can protect your home or office computer.  For those using DSL or cable-modems at home, a personal firewall is a necessity.  

Again, most new Windows operating systems come with a firewall function incorporated into the Windows software.

How do I activate my Windows based computer's built-in firewall?

If you're running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), Windows Firewall is turned on by default. However, you should still check to make sure it is wasn't turned off at some point. To do so:

  1. Click Start and then click Control Panel.
  2. In the Control Panel, click Windows Security Center.
  3. Click Windows Firewall.
  4. In the General tab, verify that the On (recommended) option is selected. If not, click the radio button next to On to activate the firewall.
What should I know before using a personal firewall?

Personal firewalls can unknowingly pass hostile traffic because not all traffic is what it seems to be. A hostile program can be configured to change its name to a commonly trusted program, such as Microsoft Outlook, and then sneak through your defense system.

Some personal firewalls require you to download monthly updates. The built-in firewall incorporated into the newer Windows operating systems does not do this. Updates occur automatically as they become available.

 

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