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Understanding Firewall Software – Purpose

written by: Donna Buenaventura•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 1/5/2010

Firewall software is a must-have application for protecting not only your PC and network but yourself. Read this article to discover the purpose of using firewall software in Windows.

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    Overview

    Our computer and network is susceptible of being attacked if no firewall software is installed or in use. You should install firewall software if you want protection that anti-virus, anti-spyware or anti-malware will not cover. This article will explain the purpose of firewall software.

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    Why use a software firewall?

    Some end-users believe that firewall software is not needed if they have nothing to protect against (important data or documents), while others may not be installing or enabling firewall software because they do not know the purpose of such software.

    Firewall software provides protection against intruders by shielding the network or computer from unwanted and malicious internet traffic. It is an important defense in protecting our PCs and network not only for people who have important data to keep private. A firewall software is a must have for all computers that are connected and can be accessed by other devices on the network or the Internet.

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    What does the firewall software can protect against?

    The basic task of firewall software is to inspect if the incoming and outgoing connection is to allowed or blocked. Most firewall software has pre-configured firewall rules to help block known attacks on particular ports or service and application. It will block a connection or computer if it detects port scan activity and other type of attacks (e.g. Denial of Service attacks, IP spoofing, IP flooding, duplicate IP addresses and other vulnerabilities in a system that has not been patched or is known to be attacked often by hackers or malicious users and many other type of attacks).

    Advanced firewall software will provide extra protection by protecting the firewall itself (from malware adept at bypassing firewall security measures). If the firewall has failed to protect itself or it failed a leak test, your network and computer could be in deep trouble. Your IP address can be spoofed, your information is accessible to the intruder, and your system can be infected.

    Some firewall software will provide privacy and web protection by allowing your private data or your connection and computers to be accessed only by trusted network and devices. In some firewall programs, there is an option to block or allow only a set of IPs or named websites. This is known as filtering feature. Other firewall software offers host protection by controlling which applications or system file sare allowed to access one another. This function in a firewall is quite useful in preventing known or unknown spyware or malware on a system from pretending to be another processes or service.

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    Where to get firewall software?

    Windows XP with Service Pack 2 and later, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 all have a built-in firewall program. Just re-enable it if you’ve disabled it. If you are comfortable in using recommended advanced firewall software, you can try using free firewall software such as Online Armor, Outpost, ZoneAlarm, PC Tools Firewall Plus, Sunbelt Personal Firewall, Comodo Firewall (can be installed by choosing firewall only), Vista/XP/7 Firewall Control, etc. There are commercial firewall software or internet security suite applications that include firewall protection. Look around to discover which to use and ensure that it can really firewall your PC and network against attackers.

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    Final words

    To prevent malicious attacks and prevent infection, it’s best to install or enable firewall software even if you have an external firewall (hardware firewall). If anyone can access your network and computers, you are not in control to your system and data any longer and that could lead to infection because anyone can simply add malicious files on your system to infect the system or compromise your system.