To Firewall or Not To Firewall….

September 14, 2010

If you have ever installed a fully featured Antivirus program, or another security program, you may of been presented with an option to install a firewall, thereby disabling the standard firewall built into Windows.

What is a firewall, and should we keep the Windows firewall, or use the 3rd party software firewall?

A firewall is a hardware of software application that blocks unauthorized access to a computer or network.  It also lets the right kind of access in or out, meaning you can still access the internet and applications you need.

For most small businesses and home users, a software firewall application is suitable.  For larger networks, or high security, a robust hardware solution may be the answer.

There are arguments for using or not using the built in firewall in Windows.

  • FOR – The windows firewall is automatically configured and turned on by default.  You don’t have to do anything to start it up.
  • AGAINST – Microsoft Windows is a huge target for hackers.  They are always looking for ways to find ways into the system.  It may be harder to attack a system with another software firewall running.
  • FOR – If you have a hardware firewall application, or the firewall setup on your router, it does not hurt to keep the Windows Firewall running on your individual computers.
  • AGAINST – A company that specifically makes security software is focused on the purpose of security.  A 3rd party firewall application typically provides greater protection, though it does require more interaction and configuration.

Whatever your decision is, having a firewall running on your computer(s) is a good idea.  There are thousands of viruses, worms, and other threats floating around in cyberspace.


What is a firewall and why do you need it?

April 13, 2010
A firewall used to refer to the materials in an automobile that would protect the passengers from the heat and elements of the engine compartment.  When it comes to computer networks and the internet, a firewall still protects people.

  • Most large companies with extensive computer networks use sophisticated firewalls to protect their digital assets from outside sources.
  • Firewalls are configured to block most incoming network or internet traffic, but exceptions are made so employee’s can perform their work duties accordingly.
  • Any computer that has Windows XP, Windows Vista, WIndows 7 or Mac OSx has a built in firewall software application.
  • Some viruses and malware are designed to infiltrate, disable or re-configure a firewall in order to give a third party access to the network, computers or websites.
Antivirus and Third-Party Firewall Software

Most antivirus software programs include a personal firewall solution for desktop computer systems.  You can also download third-party firewall programs.

Although the built in firewall in the Windows operating system is generally effective enough in keeping your computer safe on the internet, the reason you may want to consider using another firewall program is that many authors of viruses and malware specifically target Microsoft products.   A third party firewall software may be able to thwart some attacks that a built in firewall may permit.

  • When you install a firewall program, you may notice that some of your programs, internet access or other networking configurations may not work.  You may have to configure your firewall to allow the program configurations to work.
  • File and printer sharing may also stop working.
  • One of the first troubleshooting steps most IT professionals will take is to disable antivirus and firewall software applications to determine if those programs are causing issues.

Utilizing a firewall can be a good way to keep your computers and network safe from intruders on the internet, but be sure to read the instructions or help files to configure the software correctly.