Ensure a Firewall is Running Before Going Online! Connecting to the Internet has many advantages. However, it also exposes your computer to the possibility of intrusion and virus attacks. One of the major downfalls of the Internet is that there are people who dedicate their time to looking for ways to attack other unsuspecting users.

One of the ways that you can protect your computer against Internet attacks is to implement a firewall solution between the Internet and your computer and private network. This is becoming more and more important as people store personal information on their computers such as bank account numbers, credit card data, tax information, and so on. Not implementing a firewall makes this information accessible to attackers.
A firewall closes the door to your local computer and private network so intruders cannot get in, but you can still get out.

If you are looking for a fast, easy firewall solution, you can take advantage of the firewall component included with Vista. The Windows Firewall lets you to secure your local computer and network by preventing unsolicited traffic from the Internet.

A firewall solution can be a challenge to implement, especially for a user with limited experience. Windows Firewall provides a simple method of protecting your network and requires little to no configuration. You can use it to secure a single computer with an Internet connection or to secure a small network of computers.

So how does the Windows Firewall protect your computer? The firewall inspects each packet that is destined for the private network. It maintains a table to determine which incoming traffic was initiated on the local network, for example, a user on the private network accessing an FTP server on the Internet. Any incoming traffic resulting from this request would be allowed through the firewall. If an inbound request was not initiated by the local computer or a computer on the private network, it is not allowed through the firewall.

The Windows Firewall is enabled by default in Vista. You can use the Security Center within the Control Panel to verify the settings. More advanced users can choose to work with Windows Firewall with Advanced Security found within the Administrative Tools.

You can test the integrity of your firewall to determine if any weaknesses exist. Doing so is not difficult because many Web sites will put your computer’s defense system to the test. For free too! There are several trusted Web sites you can visit that offer free tools for scanning your computer to detect any existing security weaknesses. For example, www.grc.com or the Symantec Security Check available from the Symantec Web site (www.symantec.com). In any case, once you have your firewall enabled, don’t assume you are safe and clear from Internet attacks. You may be surprised to see the results of a security check and all the holes that may still exist.

In the final installment of this series, I will talk about the installation of some common applications.

[tags]Windows, Vista, OS, Microsoft, install, installation, Windows upgrade[/tags]