Routers – Hardware Firewalls Vs Software Firewalls Part 1 Software

I am starting with the software version. Examples of this include: Mcafee, Norton, Panda, Computer Associates (CA), Trend Micro, and Black Ice.

The above examples may be included in a bundled package but not always. They may be bundled with Anti-Spyware, Spam Controls, Parental Controls, and other types of programs. The theory is you are getting a LOT of protection for a single price and as a single program to work with. Ironically, I myself have yet to find a 3rd party packages on a clients machine that did not either slow the machine down significantly or out right cause it problems. Many of the third party applications can be problematic to configure, update and run in a way that does not cause further problems.

A software firewall sometimes is the only thing that may be standing between you and the entire world. There is a saying on the internet that you and all your friends and enemy’s are only a couple milliseconds away from each other. That is a scary thought!!!

Software firewalls have a very difficult job! They are expected to let all the good traffic from your computer out, and then deny all the bad stuff from causing a problem on your computer. This theory is great, most software packages tend to fall very short in their application. In my opinion, many actually fail miserably. The implementations I have witnessed so far, have shown the firewalls to be too restrictive. I have many times had to remove the entire package and install separate programs to replace the “bundles”.

Did you know that every version of Windows since Windows XP (Service Pack 2) comes with its own firewall? Right out of the box, the firewall is turned on. Is this the most extreme firewall, not by any means but in most cases it works extremely well and will seldom cause you problems with programs that run. The version of the firewall that comes with XP, Vista, Windows 7, and the Mac is actually fairly good. It is also a LOT better than not having any firewall turned on at all. So please ensure your firewall is turned on.

At the start of this post I stated that I am not a fan of the software firewalls. OK, so if I am not a fan why would I actually recommend the use of one. Well like every other rule in the world there are exceptions to rules. If I am at home and I am using my known secure router, then I can relax the rules for needing my software firewall turned on. Reality, I seldom spend the amount of time that I desire at home, and instead spend it in hostile networks. I am on clients networks, work networks, servers, and OPEN WIFI. With this in mind, I keep the software firewall I have on my mac at full strength. I know you are saying that I am contradicting myself, but hear me out. The software firewall is up and working because of the hostile open nature of the networks I am on. I trust my machine as I am personally cautious of what i download and run. What is don’t trust is the rest of the world!

On an open wireless connection you are connected to everyone else in that may be in the shop as well as many who may be outside you don’t know. On an open wifi, there is normally a hardware routers / firewall, and it will protect you some from the people outside on the internet. The juicy inside of the open wifi is where you are wide open to everyone else in the area. Wireless is a omnidirectional signal. This means that not only is the signal 360 degrees around the wireless device, it is also top and bottom. This means you can have someone a couple floors up seeing what signals are being sent out and the person on the internet will never know they even exist. At the moment I will not go into secure wireless vice non secure wireless. On the open wifi you can be seen without your firewall turned on. You can test your firewall and if it is working by going to https://www.grc.com/x/ne.dll?bh0bkyd2

If you travel with your laptop, you should have a firewall turned on. If you have a laptop and take it to friends or coffee shops to work or play, you should have your firewall turned on. If you have kids on computers and the computers may be infected with what ever, you should have a firewall turned on.

Summary:
If you are not 100% positive of where your network is or who is on it, turn your firewall on!!!

5 Comments to “Routers – Hardware Firewalls Vs Software Firewalls Part 1 Software”

  1. By Anonymous, April 5, 2010 @ 8:14 AM

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  2. By admin, April 6, 2010 @ 7:53 AM

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    Anthony

  3. By Gregory Despain, April 7, 2010 @ 1:49 AM

    awesome article thx!

  4. By Donte Humprey, April 9, 2010 @ 8:20 PM

    Your idea coincides with mine.and I think it’s better.

  5. By Legalsounds, April 12, 2010 @ 11:03 PM

    I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you cleared up some things for me!