Some Simple Facts About Windows Firewalls

A firewall is a level one security barrier that consists of a combination of hardware and software that limits the exposure of a computer or computer network from unauthorized access and exposure to threats from the Internet in the form of crackers, viruses, worms, hackers and other malicious intent. A firewall is the most basic and important first step in layered security that can be taken by home and small business use computers.

Without a firewall protected computer once you go online and begin surfing the Internet all the things and more aforementioned are highly subject to happen. Unauthorized people or vicious software programs can cultivate your computer files gaining personal information, destroy files, install bad intentioned code stringers, hijack your computer to create problems to other computers or a network of computers and an endless supply of ill events that you could unfortunately discover too late or; might not even be aware of. So, it should go without saying, you need a firewall on your PC!

It is not the intent of American Industry Maintenance (AIM), LLC to support scare tactics but rather continue to be an advocate for consumer awareness. Thus it is important that you know if you already have a Windows Vista or Windows XP (Home or Professional) operating platform with service Pack 2 (SP2) installed on your computer, you have a firewall installed as a feature of these programs. If you have a different version of Windows (Millennium (ME), 2000, 98) you really do need to obtain a hardware or software firewall configuration from a distributor and get it installed before you again connect to the Internet.

If you are not certain what Windows operating platform your computer is running you can find out immediately by taking the following steps;

* Click Start, and than click Run.
* In the Run dialog box, type winver. Click OK.

Another dialog box will appear that announces the version of Windows software that is installed on your computer system. If you find that you have Windows Vista or Windows XP with the SP2 installed, you can reasonably assume (if you did not change settings) that the Windows firewall is on as it is set by default before leaving the factory.

It is not enough to know you have a firewall it has to be enabled in order to operate and take the security actions it was designed to do. Though you may think this is an inappropriate comment or simply common sense, the McAfee/NCSA Cyber Security Survey conducted in October 2007 found that only 73% of Americans thought they even had a firewall and of that percentage; only 64% actually had the firewall enabled. Thus the sad reality was that only 4% of Americans understood firewalls "completely" and more than 4 out of 10 Americans (44%) did not understand how a firewall works.

If you have Windows Vista or Windows XP with SP2 installed and are not really certain if the firewall is enabled you can undertake the following steps to check things out;

1. Open the Windows Firewall by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Security and finally, Windows Firewall.
2. Click Turn Windows Firewall on or off. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. You should know, if you did not set up and administrator account, the default (factory setting) administrator account has the user name: Administrator and the password has not been set and should be left blank.
3. Click on (Recommended) and than click OK.

Now that you have your firewall installed or enabled, it is important that you remember this is a level one proactive security measure. A firewall is not a catchall preventative measure. A firewall will not prevent E-mail viruses such as a Trojan horse, which is a software trick that looks helpful but is ultimately benign and by design tricks you into opening and downloading them and receiving subsequent havoc. Other viruses, spyware, pop-up ads, spam and Phishing scams are not avoided by using a firewall. A firewall can help protect a PC on a wireless network; but cannot restrict access to the network itself. For safeguards, you should configure a wireless network that uses Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) with a network key or wired equivalent privacy (WEB)