DATA DOCTORS

Firewalls are the first line of defense for internet users

Jun 12, 2021, 5:00 AM
(Piqsels Photo)...
(Piqsels Photo)
(Piqsels Photo)

Q: What does a firewall do and is it something I need to get?

A: In the early days of the Internet, we often connected through a dial-up modem or some other form of direct connection.

When you connected in this way, your computer was assigned a public IP address, which meant that it was directly accessible by others on the Internet.

It was important to install a software firewall to block direct access to your computer when you were connected to the Internet. Popular consumer-focused firewalls like Zone Alarm also monitored outgoing traffic to alert the user when suspicious activity was detected.

Today, we generally connect to the Internet through a wired or wireless router that allows lots of devices to share a single Internet connection.

The router also provides hardware-based firewall protection by assigning every device connected to it a local IP address, which is only accessible by other devices on that local network.

Consider it your first layer of protection against unauthorized access from the outside world.

Windows firewall

If your computer is running the Windows operating system, there’s also a firewall built into Microsoft Defender. It adds an additional layer of protection for inbound traffic and also monitors outgoing traffic for suspicious activity.

If you want to see if it’s enabled, go to the Settings -> Update & Security-> Windows Security -> Firewall & network protection.

You’ll see three network types listed: domain, private and public with an indication of whether the firewall is enabled for each one.

Domain networks are when you are part of a business network controlled by an IT department that would generally determine and control whether this firewall is used or not.

Private networks are those that don’t use domain services and represent the typical home or small business network.

Public networks like those at coffee shops, hotels and airports are where having the firewall enabled is important, since you won’t have the protection provided by your router.

For the best protection when on public networks, it’s best to connect using a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

macOS firewall

Apple computer users also have a firewall built into the operating system, which can be accessed by going to System Preferences -> Security & Privacy and click on the Firewall tab at the top.

If you want to make a change, you’ll need to click on the lock in the bottom left corner and enter your OS password.

Internet security software firewalls

Just about every Internet security software program these days includes firewall protection, which can be more sophisticated than the ones built into operating systems.

You can run into some problems if both are running, so you’ll need to specifically search the support section of your product’s website to see if you need to disable it or not.

In some cases, your built-in firewall can be disabled during the installation process of your security software, so don’t be alarmed if it’s disabled.

If your computer connects to a business network, it’s important to contact the IT department to discuss changes before you make them to avoid conflicting security issues.

Data Doctors

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 file photo, the logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

In need of Gmail storage space cleanup tips? Here are a few to get you started

If you haven’t done much in the past to keep the clutter from building up in your Gmail account, there are a number of places where you can free up valuable storage space.
7 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Data Doctors

Here are the latest online shopping tips for 2021

As the holiday seasons drives up purchase volumes, here are the latest online shopping safety tips.
14 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

Column: Does Windows 11 Need Anti-Virus Software?

With all of the new security features in Windows 11, here's why you should consider security software packages.
21 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

What to consider when deciding whether to buy or rent Internet router, modem

There are pros and cons to both sides of the buy-versus-rent an internet modem/router question and there is no single answer for everyone.
28 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Data Doctors

Column: Why computer extended warranties are a waste

When it comes to computers, there are a variety of reasons that buying ‘extra protection’ up front can be a waste of money.
1 month ago
(Unsplash Photo)...
Ken Colburn, Data Doctors

Yes, you can take presentable astronomy photos on phone camera

While serious astrophotography requires a pile of expensive DSLR camera equipment, you can actually get decent images from your smartphone with a little work.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

...
ENVOQUE MD

Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.
...
DISC DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
...
PNC Bank

3 cool tips to turn everyday moments into learning experiences for your child

Early brain development has a crucial impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five.
Firewalls are the first line of defense for internet users