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This Help! section includes information and recommendations on firewalls for increased Internet security.

 

Firewalls

 

Software Firewalls     Hardware Firewalls (Routers)

 

What Firewalls can do for you:

Your computer is vulnerable to attackers in two areas: the file system and through network communications. Antivirus programs are used to guard the file system, while firewalls are used to guard the network communications.

 

Anti-virus is easy to set-up and use. The default settings wonít hinder your computers operation; you just need to keep the virus definitions updated (preferably automatically). With firewalls though, the settings must be customized for your system. Improperly configured firewalls either provide inadequate protection, or obstruct legitimate activities. This page will describe how attackers try to gain access to your computer and how antivirus and firewalls are used to spoil these attacks.

Your computer can be infected anytime youíre connected to the Internet, even if your e-mail or Internet browser is closed. Every computer connect to the Internet has a unique IP address so communication can be directed to it. With dial-up service, your IP address is different every time you dial-up. This is usually a good thing as it makes your computer a moving target for hackers. With broadband, your IP address is usually static (not changing) so hackers can attack your computer at leisure. FYI - Some automated worms can check the whole range of IP addresses in less than 15 minutes.

Your computer has 65,536 network communication ports which other computers can talk to. Any port that is open can give hackers a way in, and you only use a small fraction of these ports. But unless you have a firewall, all the ports are open and are susceptible to hacking. A firewall will close ports that donít need to be open, and uses rules to control the data traffic allowed through the remaining open ports. For example, a firewall will allow you to download files from the Internet, but others can not pull files from your hard drive.

 

Our Recommendation:

There are two types of firewalls; software & hardware. While they both provide "firewall" type protection, both types of firewalls are recommended as they work in different ways. Please see the links below for descriptions of how both types of firewalls can protect your system and personal information.


Test your computers vulnerability with these Web-based utilities:

  PC Flank
  Shields Up
  Sygate Tests

 

Help! Related Articles:

  Software Firewalls
  Hardware Firewalls (Routers)

 

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