A firewall is a system program which protects your personal computer or network from outside intrusion. You should enable at least one firewall to ensure your computer is secure against hackers, viruses, and malicious spyware.
Why You Should Have a Firewall
An unprotected computer connected to the Internet is an open target. Hackers use special programs—viruses, even—to scour the Internet for unprotected computers. Once a hacker gains access, he can steal personal information, delete files, or use the hacked computer to launch other attacks. It’s important to protect against these direct assaults by installing a firewall on your Internet connection.
A firewall can also protect you from indirect attacks. If your computer becomes infected with spyware, a properly configured firewall can limit the spyware program’s ability to “phone home.”
Think of a firewall as a series of security perimeters you could build to guard your home:
- You could use a lock on your door to prevent people from entering your house.
- Further out, you could build a fence around your yard and add a gate to your driveway.
- Beyond your own property, your community could have some sort of gated access.
Likewise, Internet firewalls can be placed at different points along a network connection to prevent unauthorized entry:
- You can run firewall software on your computer to prevent other computers on the local network from gaining access.
- You can firewall your Internet connection to prevent anyone on the Internet from entering your home network.
- Built-In DSL Firewalls
If you are a DSL subscriber, the DSL equipment you obtained from Hubris Communications already has a built-in firewall. Hackers cannot easily infiltrate your home network through the Internet because they cannot get through the DSL router.
- Computer Software Firewalls
If you have Windows XP (with Service Pack 2) or Mac OS X, your computer has built-in firewall technology which is enabled by default. If you have an older version of Windows, you can purchase firewall software to “lock-down” your computer, preventing intrusion from the Internet or from another computer on your local network.
- Wireless Access Point Firewalls
If you setup a wireless access point within your network, you must reconsider your firewall situation! A wireless access point sits behind your DSL firewall but in front of your computer firewalls. If someone gains access to your wireless access point, he is effectively within your home network.
You must carefully read your wireless router’s documentation to learn how to enable its security features.