How to Select and Use Personal Firewalls
What is a Personal Firewall?
The Internet term "Firewall" comes from the automotive industry. Cars
have firewalls that protect the passenger compartment from possible
fires originating in the engine compartment.On the Internet the term
applies to hardware or software which protects one or more computers
from other computers.
Firewalls, also called desktop firewalls, are used to protect
individual personal computers from malicious users and programs. They
are able to stop network scanning and attack programs from accessing
resources on the individual PC. Since they're monitoring all of the
traffic passing to and from the computer's network interface they also
are able to stop local programs from accessing external resources.
How To Select a Personal Firewall
A personal computer firewall should
have the following features:
- Block External Intrusions
- Block Local Outbound Malware
- Ease of Use. Some provide automatic advise concerning any
alerts that occur.
Nice to have features include:
- E-mail scrubbing with anti-virus
- P2P protection (like Kazaa, ICQ, and MSN Messenger)
- Popup ad blocker
- Automatic identification of Internet access rights
How to Use Personal Firewalls
The easiest way to use a personal firewall, and the quickest way to
make it ineffective, is to click on the "Allow" button too often. Be very
selective about allowing programs network access -- only allow
programs you know need access to gain access. These include:
- Netscape or Internet Explorer
- Various Microsoft Office Products
Periodically review the list of allowed programs and remove programs
that you don't absolutely know need access. The worst that will
happen is another pop-up asking you if the program should have access
next time you run it. Allowing malicious programs access to the
network can prove fatal.