In the real world a "fire wall" is a fireproof wall that is built to stop the spread of fire from one part of a building to others. In the Internet world a firewall has a similar purpose in that it stops the spread of harmful viruses and attacks from entering your home or office network.
Because of the ever-increasing threats that are appearing on the Internet you no longer have to be in business to need the protection of a fire wall. In fact, every computer that is connected to the internet should have one installed. You'll be a lot happier once you know that you have protected your personal files, information, and financial data, such as credit cards and bank account numbers, from being shared with every crook on the internet.
Here are some questions that you should consider before you choose a fire wall for your PC:
- What features do I need?
- Do I want to be protected from viruses, Trojan horses and worms?
- Am I at risk because I use programs that access the Internet automatically?
- How much am I willing to spend on a firewall solution?
Here are the common features that are available in almost any software-based fire wall program:
Inbound filtering - protects unknown users or programs from accessing your PC
Outbound filtering - Protects your PC from sending information to the Internet without your permission
Application integrity verification - Verifies that any program you are running aren't sneaking around behind your back and doing things that they shouldn't be doing.
Data encryption - Automatically scrambles any sensitive data that you do allow to be transmitted.
Stealth mode - Hides that fact that your PC is even connected to the Internet so that hackers can't see you.
Pop-up ad blocking - Stops those annoying ads.
Cookie blocking - prevents web sites from sending you cookies without your permission Spyware protection - Blocks dangerous spyware from operating on your PC
There are many software-based firewall programs that can be downloaded from the internet. Most of them come with free trials so you can test each one and choose what's best for you. Although you won't have to be King Geek to install and set up your firewall, there are some adjustments and settings that will have to be tweaked. All of the better firewall programs come with decent instructions and many of the products have help available at their web site.
If you notice that some program that used to work stops working after you install a fire wall then you'll have to make a change in the fire wall's configuration that will enable the program to operate freely. If you find that there is no way to let your previously operating program pass through the firewall then that might be a good indication that you need to try a different fire wall. Be sure to check with the makers of both the software program and the firewall before you give up and change.
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