Firewalls, using and choosing

Hello to all and a great big welcome back to The Weekly Geek!

This week we are going to discuss firewalls. Computer firewalls are meant to be just like the firewalls between buildings. They are barriers designed to prevent fire, or in computer terms to prevent unwanted intruders from entering.

Think of a firewall as a containment field. As a rule of thumb hardware firewalls keep hackers and rouge programs from coming in to your computer and software firewalls prevent unauthorized information or programs from coming in or going out of your computer, so it is my humble yet amazingly accurate opinion that you should have both.

A hardware firewall is normally built into your internet router. Routers are devices that bring two networks together, in this case the internet and your home computer system(s). As a rule of thumb they connect between your modem and your computer however, some routers are built into cable/DSL (high speed) modems.

The settings of a hardware firewall are usually set, at the factory, for ease of installation so security is set at a minimum. I strongly urge you to look for your owners’ manual and check out what is able to be altered, some brands offer more control than others.
Hardware firewalls block ports on your computer or home network, there are over 65,000 ports that connect your computer to the outside world. These ports are how you connect to things like the internet, e-mail, printers and digital cameras.

Unfortunately hackers also use these ports to go into your computer and steal information, setup an illegal web site or plant Spyware. If you had a hardware firewall with ports 69, 135 and 4444 blocked then you would have been immune to the Blaster worm that went about causing havoc. If you use UPS for shipping and tracking on the internet you must have ports 8080, 443 and 880 open. In other words, do not get a hardware firewall and block all ports, you need to learn which ones to leave open and which ones to close. The best way is by doing what you are doing right now, take a little time each week and learn something new about your computer and the internet. Continue reading