If your house has an alarm system, surveillance cameras, or any type of security equipment to prevent burglars, then you can compare it to a firewall. A firewall will monitor and limit connections to your computer from the internet and other users. A computer without a firewall is defenseless, and makes it easier for hackers or unwanted programs to invade your computer. There are two types of firewalls, hardware or software.
Routers are devices that act as hardware firewalls. They prevent other users and unwanted software from entering your network. Routers are not only great for firewalls, but also can be used for sharing and connecting computers to a network. Some people use Network Address Translation (NAT) routers as firewalls, even though NAT routers primary purpose is to share an internet connection with local computers. If you do not have a router firewall, you can use a software firewall that will do the job.
There are many software firewalls out there, but only a few are free. Most of the software firewalls are shareware, trials or subscription. Some free versions only have some features and if you want the full package, you will need to pay. Window XP comes with a decent firewall, but you need to make sure you have Service Pack 2 and the latest updates installed.
You can check to see if your Windows XP firewall is running by clicking Start / Control Panel / Windows Firewall, or another way is My Computer / Control Panel / Network Connections / Right click your “Local Area Network” and click properties / Click on the Advance tab then click Settings. You can click to turn your windows firewall on or off.
Software firewalls can be very complex as they contain several features. Some of the features are antivirus and antispyware, program control, e-mail protection and privacy control. These features help boost your protection for your computer, since a firewall alone cannot do everything. A disadvantage of having a software firewall instead of a hardware firewall is that it will use your computer’s resources to function. Make sure you have enough memory to prevent your system from crashing. Software firewalls can manage inbound and outbound traffic by placing policies or rules. These policies will allow or reject your programs from accessing the internet, and prevent any unwanted internet programs from invading your computer. These policies are at the owners control and may change any setting as they wish.
Firewalls may give the user increased security by protecting your computer from hackers, as opposed to having no firewall. Hackers will try anything to get into your computer by searching through your computer’s ports. Your computer has many ports. They are used to connect to the internet, but sometimes they are left open. Hackers can send a virus or spyware to these ports, and take control of your computer. To prevent this from happening, a firewall will make sure all unused ports are closed.
If you plan to access the internet without a firewall, it is like putting your hand in a beehive. The risk of you being stung are high, and it is the same risk for your computer to be hacked. Without a firewall your ports will be opened, and make it vulnerable for hackers. Therefore, choose a proper firewall that suits your needs. For more information, visit my blog PC Software Revealed for details about the recommended software to keep you computer safe.