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Just How Useful Are "personal Firewalls"?


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#1 JDV

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 07:25 PM

I've heard it both ways: some say that they are essential, and some say that they are worse than worthless.

So which is it?
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#2 buddy215

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 08:10 PM

A firewall guards your computer from Internet threats like hackers, viruses, and worms by filtering out any suspicious communications sent to your computer. In much the same way that you use caller ID on a telephone to identify who is calling before answering the call, a firewall can identify who is trying to talk to your computer and determine whether or not to allow that communication to come through. A firewall is one of the most important security tools available, and any computer connecting to the Internet should use some type of firewall.

In addition to preventing attacks coming into your computer from the Internet (which is sometimes called “inbound firewall protection”), firewalls can also be configured to prevent communications from leaving your computer and going out to the Internet (sometimes called “outbound firewall protection”). Outbound firewall protection allows you to monitor and control which programs are allowed to send information out to the Internet. This can be very useful in preventing things like spyware from sending private information without your knowledge.

Firewalls are available in hardware or software varieties. Software firewalls (sometimes called “personal firewalls”) can, and should be installed on every computer you have in your home. Software firewalls add extra features, like allowing you to specify which applications on your system can communicate over the Internet. This provides additional protection from unknown spyware that may be trying to communicate from your system. Dell recommends using a software firewall on each computer.

Hardware firewalls can also be very effective if properly configured. If you have a broadband Internet connection with a router, you most likely have a hardware firewall built into your router. Check your router documentation to determine if you have a hardware firewall and to understand configuration options.

NOTE: You can use both hardware and software firewalls at the same time.

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#3 boopme

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 09:24 PM

My simple opinion on this is:
they are essential If you go on the Internet, and some say that they are worse than worthless... If you DO NOT !!
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#4 nigglesnush85

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 12:27 PM

I agree, firewalls are a good thing and should always be used on computers connected to a network or the web.

The way I see it is that every computer has a metaphorical door which is left wide open if there is no firewall installed. Anyone could just 'walk in' and access the computer. With a personal firewall installed, the 'door' is simply shut.
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#5 Platypus

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 09:11 PM

With a personal firewall installed, the 'door' is simply shut.

And if someone tries to sneak out the window with your laptop, it slams the window on their fingers and yells! :thumbsup:

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#6 Romeo29

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 06:24 AM

When FREE personal firewalls are cosidered, some are good but others are really worthless.

Better use a commercial personal firewall. I use Outpost and it works great :thumbsup:

#7 I_am_CanadianEh?

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 08:35 AM

When FREE personal firewalls are cosidered, some are good but others are really worthless.


Comodo Pro is free and it's excellent. Zonealarm Free version is very basic and does not perform well...HOWEVER, Zonealarm Pro (not free) is great. The new version of ZA Pro is 8.0.015.00. It is much better than the 7.0 and 7.1 versions and has a slick new interface.

Also, ZA has finally incorporated all the features which work on both Vista & XP for version 8. Version 7.0 was ONLY for XP and 7.1 was ONLY for Vista. The 7.1 version had many features disabled.

My 2 cents. :thumbsup:

#8 PepeC

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 02:36 PM

Hay to " I am Canadian Eh?" I was told that Zone Alarm free version was ok----- I have been using it for awile and it seems to be doing its job.
Am I being lulled off to sleep thinking my PC is being protectd or what? I am just a novice so I don't have a clue

#9 Galadriel

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 05:59 PM

I've heard it both ways: some say that they are essential, and some say that they are worse than worthless.

So which is it?


The problem with answering that question is that it ultimately depends on whose computer you're talking about...

While a firewall is indeed a necessary step in protecting yourself, if you don't research the traffic you aren't using it efficiently. How many of you research the firewall logs? What's the percentage of users who do? Who really knows what kind of traffic is coming in/going out of their computer?

It is my opinion that a firewall is only as effective as the user behind the controls. Personally, I prefer one that has more control. Not just a block this, allow that firewall. But one that allows me to set application specific rules and/or protocol specific rules. But then again, I also run a packet sniffer, while most people do not. It really is a matter of education first and foremost. There is no blanket rule of prevention. Installing a firewall and allowing everything because you get annoyed at the prompts is just as useless as not having one installed in the first place. So I'm on the fence as to answering the original question.

Edited by Galadriel, 05 September 2008 - 06:00 PM.

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#10 PepeC

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 06:18 PM

I just looked at this web site that gave Comodo Personal Pro 3.0.22.349 a great rating http://www.matousec.com/projects/firewall-...rewalls-ratings
and ZoneAlarm 7-0 a bad rating but I just got a update from ZoneAlarm to 8.0 maybe this is ok now?

#11 JDV

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 09:51 PM

While a firewall is indeed a necessary step in protecting yourself, if you don't research the traffic you aren't using it efficiently. How many of you research the firewall logs? What's the percentage of users who do? Who really knows what kind of traffic is coming in/going out of their computer?


This is what I was thinking. I've got a hunch that most people who install a personal firewall don't do any of this and can't interpret network traffic, completely negating the effectiveness.
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#12 Galadriel

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 10:34 PM

This is what I was thinking. I've got a hunch that most people who install a personal firewall don't do any of this and can't interpret network traffic, completely negating the effectiveness.


And your hunch would probably be accurate.
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#13 Layback Bear

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 12:26 PM

Not using a fire wall is like leaving all the doors on your house open at all times. Who goes in or out you will have no control. If you shut your doors and lock them it will not stop a pro robber but it will stop the punks. As for a pro hacker, well you probably don't have any thing on you computer they want. They are looking for bigger fish. As for how well each person uses there protection; well you will be using the security on your computer, use it well.




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