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What Is A Firewall?

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#1 virusfilled


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Posted 04 October 2007 - 12:15 PM

Sorry,I'm really not good at PCs and although I have a firewall install(the bog standardWindows one),I was just wondering what the purpose of a firewall is and what it does? Is it good to update with a better one or will the Windows one suffice?

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#2 jgweed


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Posted 04 October 2007 - 12:30 PM

The following Tutorial explains what a firewall does:


Basically the firewall examines inbound and outbound packets of information, and prevents unauthorised passage between your computer and the internet.

As far as I know, the Windows firewall only examines inbound packets, not outbound packets. This would not, therefore, prevent malware on your computer from "calling home." There are several good (and free) software firewalls that not only check both ways, but have additional features you can control to meet your specific needs.

Some free firewalls used by Members can be found here:


Hope this helps, but if you have further questions, please ask.
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#3 quietman7


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Posted 04 October 2007 - 01:12 PM

The Windows XP firewall protects against port scanning but has limitations and it is no replacement for a robust 3rd-party two-way personal firewall.
  • The XP firewall is not a full featured firewall. Normal firewalls allow you to specifically control each TCP and UDP port but XPís firewall does not provide you with this capability. Instead, it takes a point and click approach to enabling or disabling a few common ports.
  • The XP firewall does a good job of monitoring, examining and blocking inbound traffic but makes no attempt to filter or block outbound traffic like most 3rd-party personal firewalls.
  • Thus, the XP firewall does not identify which programs attempt to initiate outbound network or Internet communications nor does it block the traffic when suspicious activity occurs.
    • This feature can be helpful in preventing many types of malware attacks that may attempt to open ports or communicate with outside servers without the user's knowledge or consent. It also means that if your system has been compromised, a hacker could use your machine as part of a distributed denial of service attack.
  • By default, Windows Firewall rejects all incoming traffic unless that traffic is in response to a previous outgoing request. If you're running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), Windows Firewall is turned on by default. If you Firewall is not turned on by default, then your using an unpatched OS and need to update your system to SP2.
If you choose to use a 3rd-party firewall, you need to disable the Windows firewall. Using two software firewalls on a single computer could cause issues with connectivity to the Internet or other unexpected behavior. Further, running multiple software firewalls can cause conflicts that are hard to identify and troubleshoot. Only one of the firewalls can receive the packets over the network and process them. Sometimes you may even have a conflict that causes neither firewall to protect your connection. However, you can use a hardware firewall (your router) and a software firewall (Kerio or ZoneAlarm) in conjunction.

For more information see "The Differences and Features of Hardware & Software Firewalls".
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