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


Software Firewalls



How a Software Firewall can help protect your computers:

One thing a hardware firewall (router) can't do is stop a malicious program (i.e. mass-mailing worm) that's using standard open ports on your system, which are also used by your normal email program. But a software firewall can do this because it knows which specific programs are allowed to talk to the Internet and in what ways. In addition, firewalls enhance protection from outside attacks. This is why software firewalls are such an important part of your Internet protection scheme.


Microsoft Windows XP SP2 now includes features for basic software firewall protection. By default, Microsoft Firewall is installed in new systems with this feature enabled. If you have Microsoft Windows XP, make sure you download and install Service Pack 2 (SP2). To confirm that your firewall is turned on, open the Security Center from the Control Panel. Click on the Firewall heading and confirm that the firewall is turned ON. This firewall included with Microsoft Windows XP SP2 was not intended to replace other software firewalls, but to offer everyone a very minimum level of protection. Therefore, we recommend every computer run third-party personal firewall software instead.


Choosing your Firewall Software:

Many firewall programs are available today and may be purchased individually as well as bundled with an anti-virus software suite. ZoneAlarm by ZoneLabs, and Sygate's Personal Firewall offers free versions of their personal firewall products. Full-priced firewalls generally offer more advanced options such as being able to automatically configure program access for known programs. The firewalls may also include additional safeguards, such as identity protection, website filtering, and ad blocking. Consider your options and the level of protection you desire and make sure your firewall is configured properly for protection.


Software firewalls can be simple to install, but may be difficult to understand and configure properly. Improperly configured firewalls either provide inadequate protection, or obstruct legitimate activities. To make it work correctly and provide maximum protection, you may consider hiring a professional to install and configure your firewall software for you.


Our Recommendation:

Whether you use Microsoft Windows XP or earlier Windows versions, we recommend you install and use a third-party personal firewall software program. For a full security suite for maximum protection (including antivirus), we recommend: ZoneAlarm Security Suite.


Important Note: After installing a supplemental firewall, be sure to disable Microsoft's Firewall to avoid conflicts.


Help! Related Articles:

  General Internet Security


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