Stop intruders - use a firewall

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A personal firewall is a software program that runs on an Internet connected computer. Its sole purpose is to protect you from attempted attacks by computer hackers. A hacker is a person who scans the Internet for vulnerable computers and attempts to gain access. This can be for a number of reasons. Some hackers do it simply for the challenge of breaking into another computer, others do so for malicious and criminal reasons. Either way you should do what you can to deter them.


Firewalls monitor and control inbound and outgoing traffic through your modem and will attempt to block anything that is suspicious or not normal activity. Some programs will provide you with alerts when it detects something untoward. Although a firewall can help deter would be intruders you should note that any determined hacker can find a way through. However, the chances of this happening are very slim.


It is advisable that anyone with an "always-on" Internet connection such as ADSL or Cable Modem, should install and use a personal firewall. The reason for this is that your connection uses a permanent or semi-permanent IP address, which a hacker can use to identify your computer. As such you are more vulnerable to attack than a user dialling in to the Internet with a normal modem. Their IP address will change each time they connect.


How can I get a personal firewall?


There are a wide variety of firewalls available, some are better than others. Among the most popular are Zone Alarm, Black Ice and Norton Personal Firewall. Each program has their own pros and cons and some are easier to use than others. As with all things you should try a number of products and find the one that is most comfortable for you to use.


Personal firewalls are available to buy from computer stores and you can also download them from the Internet.


To get you started Microsoft® has included a personal firewall with Windows® XP Home and Professional editions. We will show you how to enable this in the next section.


Turning on the Windows® XP Firewall


1. Click Start > Control Panel.
2. Click the Network and Internet Connections icon.

 


3. Next, click the Network Connections icon.

 


4. Now follow the instructions for Cable/DSL or Dial-up connections below:


Dial-up connections


1. Under the Dial-up section right-click the icon for your Internet provider and select Properties.

 


2. On the properties screen click the Advanced tab:

 


3. In the section "Internet Connection Firewall" you need to place a tick in the box. Then click OK to turn on the firewall.


4. You will notice that your connection icon now has a small pad lock icon to show that it is protected.

 


Cable / DSL connections


1. Under the LAN and High-Speed Internet section right-click the icon for your broadband connection and select Properties.

 


2. On the properties screen click the Advanced tab:

 


3. In the section "Internet Connection Firewall" you need to place a tick in the box. Then click OK to turn on the firewall.


4. You will notice that your connection icon now has a small pad lock icon to show that it is protected.

 


The Windows® XP firewall is now activated and protecting your Internet connection.

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