A fool's guide to firewalls

By tokyo-joe
Jan 2, 2006
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  1. Okay I know there are firewall threads out there and apologies if this is repetitive for some, but for amateurs like myself... well... I've noticed the more technically minded people here go for firewalls like Agnitum Outpost + ridicule the XP firewall, but the techie who fixed my computer reckoned it to be the best working with XP provided you've got your updates. Problem is the XP runs so far in the background I've no real idea whether it's doing a good job or not. My computer runs okay by the way.

    On the other hand I tried Agnitum (before my computer crashed on some other sofware problem I won't go in to) and it looked great and worked great. Only it told me something wanted access + wanted my approval. Now it's all very well having the best in the business if you're gonna allow access to who knows what... so I didn't allow it in.

    So maybe the answer is for those too dumb enough to know, leave the XP firewall in place, and if you know more go for something better. Apologies but am trying to educate myself in these matters and perhaps others may find it useful too. Also, seeing as I'm not a company and don't run a network, exactly how important is it to have the best firewall running? Any thoughts?

    Regards, and a happy new year naturally,
    Joe
  2. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 10,074   +13

    the BEST firewall is a good router (even if you only have 1 computer)..... that's because external computers can't see what's behind the router..... they only see the router IP address.

    as far as software goes, I recommend zonealarm.


    I use a router with XP firewall... no probs.
  3. tokyo-joe

    tokyo-joe Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 45

    Please click one of the Quick Reply icons in the posts above to activate Quick Reply.
  4. tokyo-joe

    tokyo-joe Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 45

    Zone alarm... would that be the free one? Also note fom the excellent download.com that one called something like filesclab gets good reviews. ut routers... now there's a question ... I live in Japan and recently asked my IP about the possibility of that but have yet to get a reply. Thanks for the reply!
  5. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff Newcomer, in training Posts: 8,165

    The Windows XP firewall ONLY protects you against INcoming stuff.
    Any malicious program (like keyloggers) that wants to 'phone home' with information it collected on your PC, can go out freely and send it's damaging info without you ever being aware of it!
    Any other firewall, like Zonealarm/Kerio/Sygate/Agnitum/Tiny and whatever they are called, will ALERT you that something questionable wants to go OUT!
    YOU can then decide if allowed or not.
    I think that is a very important aspect that Micro$haft in all it's (lack of) wisdom overlooked or ignored!
  6. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 10,074   +13

    true, but I'm quite vigilent on spyware.....
  7. Peddant

    Peddant Newcomer, in training Posts: 1,644

    A router and Zonealarm are the perfect combination.
  8. tokyo-joe

    tokyo-joe Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 45

    So, are routers easy to buy and install? Might look out for one tomorrow but I have to bear in mind that am in Japan and software in boxes is all scary squiggly lines... meanwhile will try Outpost.

    Ta very much for answers by the way.
  9. Peddant

    Peddant Newcomer, in training Posts: 1,644

    Routers are very easy to buy,and if your only connecting one pc,fairly easy to install too.Buy a modem/router would be my suggestion.Fewer wires.
  10. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff Newcomer, in training Posts: 8,165

    Find one with the specs you need on English-language websites, write down the brand and model-number and look for those in the Japanese shops.
    They would still display Brand and Model in Western language!
  11. tokyo-joe

    tokyo-joe Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 45

    Well, the router may have to wait as I bought a 2 licence firewall from Kerio - they've just been bought by I believe Sun systems so there's a decent offer - 1 for $15, - plus the reviews it gets are similar to Outpost. Think this may be a smart move, feel safer already...
     
  12. spike2020

    spike2020 Newcomer, in training


    here here. BTW Zonealarm updates do sometimes seem tiresome (going to the site for a new larger file) but it really is worth it. 698,000 blocks since a couple of months ago. just the 1 problem/virus in about a year (the desktop spyware ad)

    As far as anti-virus I'd say AVG. Free aswell and better than norton (person pref.)

    Spike
  13. Nodsu

    Nodsu Newcomer, in training Posts: 9,431

    Don't you think it's a bit silly to judge the value of a progrem according to (alleged) number of intrusions blocked? Especially since it's the program itself that does the reporting. The fact that ZA increases (and displays) a counter with every dropped ping packet is not an indicator of its quality or the hostility of your network.

    All software firewalls manage to block all traffic. It's not like it's possible to sneak packets past the filter - the only way is through it. And gtting through the filter works according to the rules you set.

    The quality of a software firewall comes from ease of use, extra features (application blocking, intrusion detection), lack of bugs and sensible use of system resources. In my experience ZA lacks in the latter two categories.
  14. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,288   +281

    well said :)
  15. tokyo-joe

    tokyo-joe Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 45

    As a bit of a dummy I'd have to agree that ease of use is a major issue, along with error free performance. That's also why NOD32 anti-virus was frowned on in my house for looking imposingly impenetrable. Having said that, the Kerio pro 4 firewall manual is 104 pages long. I'm gonna start reading it now so should be through it by spring.
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