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Protect your computer with a firewall

I wrote a little on this subject back in December, but I think I need to address it again. You need a firewall protecting your computer.

Computers behind firewalls are protected from worms like Sasser and MSBlaster. With no firewall, this type of worm or virus can infest your computer without you clicking on anything. Microsoft has released patches for these two worms, but more will come in the future. These worms spread via security flaws in Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Though Windows 98, Windows ME and Windows 95 do not have this type of flaw, it's a good idea to protect them anyway.

Now that you know you need a firewall, how do you do set it up? There are two types of firewalls. Hardware and software. The most common hardware firewalls are built into the typical router for home networks. You can buy them at CompUSA and BestBuy. The most popular are the Netgear and Linksys models. With this type of firewall, you connect the router/firwall between your computer and your broadband internet connection. It blocks any incoming network activity from getting to your computer, but allows you to surf the web and check your email unhindered.

Software firewalls are more attractive simply because they are FREE! If you are running Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME or Windows 2000, then go to SugarLandPC.com, click "Free Utilities" and download ZoneAlarm from ZoneLabs. It's a free firewall software that will protect your computer from worms like Sasser and MSBlaster.

If you are running Windows XP, then use the built in firewall. To enable it, follow these instructions. Click the Start button, then Control Panel. Click "Switch to classic view" if you see it at the top left. Now double-click on Network Connections. Right-click on your connection and click properties. Click on the advanced tab. Check the box that says "Protect my computer..." and click the OK button. It's that easy.

Setting up a firewall can save you a lot of grief and it's easy to do.

Posted by Charles Swihart on 6/1/2004

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