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What is a firewall?

A firewall is a special system that is designed to prevent unauthorized or unwanted access to or from a network. Firewalls can be configured to allow only certain types of data in, and to allow only certain types of data out. A firewall is considered to be the first line of defense in protecting computers from unwanted visitors?such as hackers and remote control via hidden spyware applications. Every computer that is attached to the internet should be protected by some sort of firewall, particularly those computers connected via broadband (cable, DSL, T-1, etc?. Without firewall protection, a computer is an open door to intrusions of all types from the internet. Hackers are constantly on the lookout for open internet connections that are not protected by a firewall, as these computers are easy targets. To prevent unwanted intrusion, a firewall is an absolute necessity.

There are two types of firewalls: hardware firewall and software firewall. A hardware firewall is a physical device that is located in between the internet/network connection and the computer/s on the network. A software firewall is also known as a personal firewall. Software firewalls are installed on individual computers. Many people use a combination of both hardware and software firewall, as each offers a unique blanket of protection.

How Does a Firewall Work?

Firewalls generally use several different types of techniques to protect the network. Packet filtering is used to check each packet of data that enters or leaves the network to see if it should be rejected based on the rules you set. A proxy server is used to intercept all messages and can also hide the true network address, essentially making your network invisible?to prying eyes on the internet. Application gateways are used to apply different security rules to different types of applications, allowing only the application data (such as FTP) specified to go through and blocking all other types (like Telnet). Generally, once you set the rules on a firewall you can forget it there. Many personal firewalls have the addition of privacy control, which provides protection for certain data like passwords, account numbers, etc?/p>

Software Firewall

Also known as a personal firewall, a software firewall is a program that is installed on your computer. It protects only the computer it is installed on, so if a software firewall is the only type of firewall used on a network, each computer must have a personal firewall installed. There are many good software firewall products available, and all are reasonably priced for the degree of protection they provide. ZoneAlarm Pro , PC Cillin, Sygate Personal Firewall, Armor2net Personal Firewall, Sunbelt Software Kerio personal firewall, Outpost Firewall Pro, Jetico personal firewall, Zone Labs Zone Alarm, BitDefender Internet Security and AVG Firewall are all good software firewall products that offer excellent protection. Norton Personal Firewall 2006 ?Blocks online intrusions automatically ?Download the newest version now! Click Here for more information.

For most home use with only one or two computers accessing the internet, a software firewall is all the protection needed (provided it is configured correctly). As with any computer protection software, periodic updates should be downloaded and installed in order to keep the firewall protection at it's best.

Internet Security Suite

If a personal firewall is all you use, consider getting one of the all-inclusive software computer security suites, which include a firewall in addition to anti virus and anti spyware software. It is much more economical to by bundled software, and the suites generally include everything most people need. Some excellent pc security suites are Zone Labs ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite, Symantec Nortons Internet Security Suite, McAfee Internet Security Suite, Trend Micro Pc Cillin Internet Security Suite, and Computer Associates e Trust Internet Security Suite.

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