Firewalls are a key part of your network security. It’s also an area where someone seems to always be selling you something new.
However, since XP SP2, Windows has been offering their own firewall that’s solid and adequate. If you are using Windows 7, all you have to do is install antivirus software, and Windows 8 includes even that.
The main function of a firewall is to block incoming connections that are unrequested. For example, access to network files can be allowed when your laptop is connected to your home network and blocked when you’re accessing public Wi-Fi.
Windows Firewall is generally good enough
Windows Firewall does the same job as a third-party firewall, controlling incoming connections. You can find it in the Control Panel under Windows Firewall.
When a program wishes to connect to the internet, it has to create a firewall rule or pop up a dialog, prompting you for permission. If your only concern is to have a firewall to block incoming connections, Windows Firewall is adequate.
It takes care of basic blocking and also has some advanced features. You can create rules blocking programs or allowing only a specific program to communicate. Unfortunately, these functions are hard to access because of the interface.
On the other hand, most third-party firewalls make it easy for you to control the applications on your computer. They will pop up a warning box when you first initiate the app as an outgoing connection.
A third-party firewall is a very powerful tool, but it is not required for reliable security. Windows Firewall is solid and does a good a job at protecting your system from internet threats.
Do you have a third-party software installed, or are you satisfied with Windows Firewall? Tell us in the comments below and learn what firewalls actually do and why you might need computer networking.