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Firewall Software

Firewall software is in an indispensable tool for modern computer networking.

Firewall software provides different levels of protection. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Firewall software provides different levels of protection.

Firewall Software

The proliferation of hackers, spyware and malware and viruses makes firewall software a must-have for any computer. According to Microsoft, firewall software is designed to ward off sophisticated system hackers, viruses, Trojans and worms that invade a computers operating system via the Internet. Firewall software is a home or business computers first line of defense when it comes to protecting hardware, files and personal information. These programs also keep a single computer from attacking other computers on a home-based or company network. Microsoft Windows XP and Vista operating systems come with a built-in firewall. Most other purchased or downloaded programs are easy to install and use.

Who Needs Firewall Software?

Every computer with an Internet connection is vulnerable to the world of hackers. Those that use a telephone line (or dial-up) to connect are not as susceptible or easily invaded. Whenever a user dials-up or logs on, the Internet Protocol (IP) address settings are different from the previous time thereby diminishing the likelihood that the computer will be targeted. In these situations, the free Windows firewall is sufficient protection. Computers that gain access to the Internet using high speed DSL (digital subscriber line) or a cable modem are at the greatest risk of attack because the machines are always connected.

Personal Firewall Software

Personal firewall software blocks any malicious threats from entering a computers operating system. Microsoft's Windows XP firewall offers its users basic protection. More advanced firewall software is available (and recommended) that includes anti-virus, anti-phishing and anti-malware/spyware protection. Web sites, such as All-Internet Security, review some of these products. Zone Alarm Pro Firewall, F-Secure Internet Security, NeT Firewall and ESET Smart Security-Firewall are among the top five favorite products.

Two-way third-party personal firewall software is also available. These programs offer protection against incoming and outgoing threats. Outgoing threats become a problem when a virus, Trojan or spyware/malware attacks a computers operating system. Some of the recommended products include Checkpoint Zone Alarm Pro, Sunbelt Personal Firewall, Comodo Firewall Pro and Tall Emu Online-Armor.

Firewall Software for Networks

All computers in a home or business network should be equipped with firewall software to eliminate the possibility of viruses spreading from machine to machines as a single computer becomes infected. Users should understand, however, that firewall programs will not protect a network against a virus-laden e-mail attachment. Anti-virus software is needed to combat those infections.

Exefind Software Search offers synopses of various network firewall software, such as R-Firewall, Shield Firewall 2005, Atelier Web Firewall Tester and Omniquad Personal Firewall. Software downloads also are available at this Web site.

Mobile users who connect to local networks, public Wi-Fi locations or a home-based network should install network firewall software. Network firewall software is also recommended:

  • To enhance already-installed personal firewall software
  • To protect an operating system from an unauthorized LAN (local area network) and Internet access
  • To monitor all network traffic

Installing and Configuring Firewall Software

In most cases installing and configuring personal firewall software is easy. Microsoft's firewall is considered a feature or option of the operating system. This means the firewall must be activated to take effect. Users can find Windows Firewall in their systems Control Panel. If the firewall is not turned on, the user must click on Change Settings and select the On button. The Exceptions tab allows users to modify which Web sites and programs will be blocked by the software. Once it is activated, the firewall software reviews all incoming data that arrives through the Internet connection.

Installing and configuring network firewall software (and hardware) should be left to an expert. An improperly configured system may jeopardize the firewalls level of effectiveness. There are conflicting opinions concerning whether both firewall software and hardware should be installed on a single machine. Firewall software is recommended for each individual computer, while firewall hardware should be configured on every primary computer that has an Internet connection, such as DSL or dial-up.

Firewall Software Tips

It is important never to simultaneously operate more than one firewall software program on a single computer. Compatibility problems can be avoided by performing a complete program uninstall of one product before installing a second program. Following this, installation users should verify that their firewall software was properly configured by using an Internet service, such as Security Space.

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