A what? Firewall. If you’re a PC user you have antivirus (or at least you should) and you probably even have spyware protection. Well good for you. But have you ever considered using a firewall? A firewall is a device or set of devices designed to permit or deny network transmissions based upon a set of rules and is frequently used to protect networks from unauthorized access while permitting legitimate communications to pass (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firewall_%28computing%29). Say hu? Well, a firewall is barrier between your computer and the internet – in very laymen-type terms. Sounds good for those who are paranoid about using the internet. Who would that be, you say? You’d be surprised. Let’s just look at how many people are on the internet. Who would that be, you say? You’d be surprised. Let’s just look at how many people are on the internet. According to a study done in May 2010 by Pew Internet & American Life Project, 79% of American adults use the internet. 66% of them are using broadband internet (For the technology stunted, that’s the kind of internet that’s all on the time and is typically pretty fast.).
And amazingly, 5% are using dial-up. Dial-up’s not that old, but really? Are there people still using dial-up? Sure enough. For dial-up lovers, little do they have to worry. Dial up speeds combined with resource intensive AOL antivirus software. I’d be surprised if they’d have time to get a virus before little middle school Joey needs the phone to call his buddy down the road. Remember those days? No let’s look at the 66%. 66% of people are using an “always on” internet connection. I’d imagine it’s way more than that, but let’s do with it. If I owe a PC and that PC is on ALL THE TIME, connected to the world wicked web, then my PC is available for attack. Spam, phishing, email attachments, trojans, worms, rootkits, backdoors, keyloggers, dialers, botnets, wabbits, url injectors, adware, exploits – just to name a few. Woah! Watch out.
I’m switching to dial-up.
Well, not in a million years, but if you owe a PC, you must own anti-virus, at a minimum. So you DO own antivirus – you’re set right? Not really. How do you know you have a virus on your computer? Because you know you have a virus. Simple right? Well, by that time it’s too late. Your antivirus failed. You paid for your antivirus? Didn’t do you any good did it? That’s where multi-layer protection comes in. Firewall, anti-virus, malware protection (yes, in that order).
The firewall monitors all network traffic and has the ability to identify and block unwanted traffic. Since most computers these days are connected to the Internet, attackers have many opportunities to find victim computers. These attackers probe other computers on the Internet to determine if they are vulnerable to various types of attacks. When they find a suitable computer, they can compromise it and insert themselves on to that computer. At that point the attacker can make the victim computer perform almost any task he desires. Attackers will often try to steal personal information for the purposes of financial fraud. All of this activity takes place in the background without the user knowing what is happening.
So that’s why it’s important to stay protected.
Paid or unpaid, there are good ones out there. It’s not hard to find a paid firewall – they’re usually bundled with an internet security suite of some sort. But my favorite free ones are ZoneAlarm & Comodo Firewall (I recommend ZoneAlarm but I hear Comodo stuff is really good also.)
A firewall will take you to the next level of security. It probably won’t always and forever save your computer from a virus or malware, but in many cases you’re better having it than not.
If you have more questions concerning internet security, contact me using the contact section of this website or leave me a comment below.