Can someone explain a "firewall" to me?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Rob Varto, Nov 17, 2003.

  1. Rob Varto

    Rob Varto Supporting Actor

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    This is probably a dumb question, but what is a firewall and how do I set one up? I currently have a wireless router and my modem connected directly to it and then to my cpu. Is the firewall a software or a hardware thing (or both)? What are the pros and cons of having one? What firewall would you recommend. I recently got a virus and I get tons of pop ups (using Webwasher now) and I don't want this to happen again.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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  3. AllanN

    AllanN Supporting Actor

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    The term "firewall" came from automobiles, in a car they are a sheet of steel between the passenger area and the engine compartment. There purpose is that if the engine catches on fire it protects the occupants inside (to an extent). A computer firewall is similar but in this case the people are computers and the fire is all the viruses, worms, and punks out there trying to get access to your computer. Firewalls can be either a hardware device or software that runs on a standard computer. Your router provides a certain amount of protection because none of your computers are directly connected to the internet. The router directly connected and your computers are connected to the router. Depending on your model of router it may have what is called Statefull Packet Inspection, where it actually looks at all the traffic coming into your network and determines to the best of its abilities if the traffic is malicious or not. If your model of router does have a firewall built in then that an updated anti-virus and keeping your computer patched should do. If you just have a standard router, id put firewall software on your computers along with anti-virus and keep your patches current.
     
  4. Gordon Moore

    Gordon Moore Second Unit

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    Firewalls come in 2 flavors....hardware and software.

    the routers that you purchase at Best Buy, Future Shop, Staples, OfficeDepot tend to be inbound filters...in other words they look hard at the packet (network data) coming into your computer and do their best to either accept or deny based on algorithms like SPI (explained above) or rules that you define (if the router has an advanced page that let's you set up rules...if it does then it can filter some outbound traffic as well).


    Software firewalls (ZoneAlarm, Sygate, Kerios etc...) are more of the outbound variety. In other words a program makes a request to access the internet and you decide if it's okay or not. This is how you create the "rules" without knowing the specifics (the techincal stuff) behind those rules.


    Hardware routers technically know nothing about a certain programs request to access the 'net so in theory if a trojan makes it on your PC through email (usually) it could punch a hole through your security by opening up a port and making things accessible to it's creator. Unless you've locked down all your extraneous ports.


    I feel your best combination is all 3:

    1. Up-to-date AV software
    2. Hardware router (even if it doesn't have SPI or advanced firewall features NAT provides some basic protection)
    3. Software Firewall

    If your pc is a little shy on resources then 1 & 2 are your best bet.


    If you're short on cash then 1 and 3

    If you live off of KD daily:
    ============================
    then AVG from grisoft (free AV scanner) amd sygate personal firewall version 5x. (again free) is your best bet.

    If you can find 10 bucks to spare, run to Walmart look for valusoft's Extendia AVK with POP scanner. It's the KAV (better than Norton...in most tests for detection) engine version 4 with a POP email scanner that updates daily . Best bang for your buck for under $10.

    I've set a couple of people up with that and I've been thoroughly impressed with the high value low dough approach it provides. Not a lot of explanation is provided, so you may want to ask for help to make sure you're fully configured.

    If you had to choose between buying firewall software and a good virus checker then I would have to say get the virus checker.


    cheers!
    Gord
     
  5. Gordon Moore

    Gordon Moore Second Unit

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  6. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Given that you're running a wireless network router you should also turn on WEP to protect that wireless connection. There's no point running a firewall if the wireless backbdoor is wide open[​IMG]
     

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