A firewall protects your computer from constantly changing Internet threats. The Internet is a business necessity today, but it also opens the door to unwanted traffic. Therefore, a first line of defense is necessary to block communications that might actually be dangerous software. The Windows Firewall helps do just that. Here’s how you can set up a Firewall to block intruders from gaining access to your computer.
There are two main types of firewalls:
1. Hardware firewalls, which block all communications between the Internet and your network that are not explicitly permitted. For example, you may configure your firewall to allow certain kinds of email and Web traffic, but block all other kinds. A hardware firewall can also hide the addresses of the individual computers in your network, making them invisible on the Internet.
A hardware firewall may be integrated into the router or DSL/cable modem that your ISP has supplied. You can buy reasonably priced hardware firewalls from companies like LinkSys, Microsoft and D-Link.
2. Software firewalls are designed to protect the computer that runs such firewalls. While these firewalls can be a good backup defense to hardware firewalls, they on their own cannot protect your network from hacking and other types of Internet crime. A commonly used software firewall is the Microsoft Internet Connection Firewall built into Windows XP Pro.
Follow these steps to set up a firewall on a computer running Windows XP.
Step 1: Click Start. Then click Control Panel.
Step 2: Open the Network Connections folder under Control Panel. Right click on the connection you use to access the Internet.
Step 3: Select Properties, then go to the Advanced tab.
Step 4: Select Protect My Computer and network by preventing access to the Internet.
Step 5: Click OK to finish the process.
If your computer is not running Windows XP, you can look for a commercial software firewall from reputable companies like ZoneLabs, McAfee and Symantec.