SECURITY: Security and Firewalls


This is a topic that annoys me slightly as the Internet is full of misinformation as well as the odd bit of accurate information.  The main problem seems to stem from biased opinions from sites that make comission from advertising 3rd party anti virus utilities.

For instance, I could easily recommend Norton or Kaspersky anti-virus software and provide you a link, then each time you click it our buy it I would earn money.  Now you see why the internet is full of dodgy information!

What security and antivirus do I need?

The fact you are reading this and taking notice suggests you are likely to be a computer user who does not have a deep understanding of the topic and thus is unlikely to have any complicate requirements.  For instance, if you don’t understand any of the following:  NAT, VLAN, VoIP, Port Forwarding, Ports etc then its unlikley you need or want any of the paid-for security products.  If however you have a requirement to configure any of these items then the information here within may not apply.  For clarity, all of my home and work computers use the free software and setup recommended within – I do practice what I preach!

For Anti-virus information see here

Firewalls

A firewall is simply a method of stopping unwanted things accessing your computer remotely.

Windows XP (sevrice pack 2+), Windows Vista and Windows 7 all have an in-built firewall.  Techies will say the firewall isn’t very good and you need to replace it with something – even free software such as ZoneAlarm.  However the novice and simple user these can be too complicated, too daunting, and ultimately I’ve seen users accidentally disable certain areas as they didn’t know what is going on and made wrong assumptions

You also need to understand that most peoples WiFi routers have an inbuilt firewall anyway so the Windows firewall is now secondary (unlike the old way of dial up modems when the only firewall was Windows).

Firewall Recommendation

Stick with the Windows Inbuilt Firewall.  It is absolutely fine for most users.  And it is secure enough for typical home users.

In my career as a corporate IT manager for some data sensitive companies, I have never had an incident where the Windows Firewall has been hacked – and yes we had both monitoring tools and 3rd party paid white-hat penetration testers who were unable to get any data from it.

Firewall Tips – and musts!

  1. You must make sure the firewall is turned on!!  See here on how to check
  2. If any program requires to make a change to the firewall it will ask you first.  Only allow progams you trust to make changes!  e.g. if you are installing known software.  Do not say “yes” to anything you aren’t expecting