Who Needs a Firewall?
You do! Read more to find out what a firewall is, how it can keep you safe, and how to get one.
A Firewall is, actually, pretty much the same as its non-tech definition. A firewall, in building construction, is set up to contain or prevent fire from traveling from one side of the wall to the other - an extra bit of protection, if you will. A firewall on your pc does, essentially, the same thing.
Seven Design Avenue describes a firewall this way:
A firewall is a safeguard utilized by many Local Area Networks (LANs) or Wide Area Networks (WANs) to protect the network from unauthorized access from the outside. They are basically gates that verify the users before they leave or enter the network by way of a User ID, Password or IP address.
bytown internet explains it another way:
A Firewall is a system which limits network access between two or more networks. Normally, a Firewall is deployed between a trusted, protected private network and an untrusted public network. For example, the trusted network might be a corporate network (ie: Queens University), and the public network might be the Internet. A Firewall might grant or revoke access based on user Authentication, source and destination network addresses, network protocol, time of day, network service or any combination of these. These settings are normally controlled by the Network Administrator.
So how can a firewall help you - the average, home user?
By giving an extra level of blocking protection against spam, viruses and other malware.
Those lucky enough to be running WinXP SP2 (that's Windows XP, Service Pack 2) already have a built-in firewall that they can use. All they have to do is turn it on. Here's how to make sure you have SP2 and your firewall turned on:
How do I know if I'm running Windows XP?
Easy enough. On your Desktop, right-click once on My Computer and choose "Properties". The little window that pops up should tell you which operating system you are running. If not, you can also open My Computer and choose Help: About Windows from the taskbar at the top of the window.
Ok, I'm running WinXP - how do I know if I have Service Pack 2?
The same way we just went through! Both of the ways listed above will tell you if you are running Service Pack 2 (or sp2).
Great! How do I make sure my firewall is turned on?
First off, go into your Control Panel (usually found on the Start menu). Find the "Security Center" and open it up. You should see the firewall as one of the security features offered - simply make sure it's switched to "On".
I don't have Windows XP or Service Pack 2 and I have no plans to upgrade any time soon.
That isn't a problem. There are other legitimate, and trustworthy firewall sites on the Internet (of course, there are some of the other kind, too!).