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What is a Personal Firewall?

Article Details
  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Firewalls are special software programs designed to keep intruders out of a network. These programs run on computer hardware and can be designed to keep out probing computer hackers. A personal firewall is one that is managed and controlled at the computer desktop level. It is typically included in most anti-virus software packages.

It is easy to configure a personal firewall. This software enables the filtering of inbound and outbound messages on a computer network. The firewall can disable specific ports on the computer system, which are often used by computer hackers as a method of infiltrating a network.

The Windows® operating system is generally sold with personal firewall software included. If other firewall software is desired, the Windows® software should be disabled. It is not recommended to run two firewall software programs simultaneously because the protection may become unreliable.

There are many types of personal firewall software available. These include commercial products and free-for-download, open source products. When selecting firewall software, it is important to choose a product from a reliable security vendor. This will help to ensure the computer network does not become compromised.

Personal firewall software should be easy to configure, install, and manage. Once the software is configured, it should remain in a monitoring mode at all times. The software should be set to default startup status to ensure the security is enabled each time the computer system is turned on. This will enable 24-hour protection on the computer network of the home or business.

Most firewall software packages will track any inbound or outbound data transfers. This data will be stored in log files and can be reviewed by system administrators on a periodic basis. Enabled logging ensures that all data transfers are monitored, which should limit users from downloading suspicious files.

Popular instant messaging software uses specific ports on the computer network. This enables instant message traffic to flow correctly. Because the firewall software monitors all port activity, it may be necessary to enable specific ports when configuring the software for instant messaging traffic.

One of the key benefits of having a personal firewall is the protection of private data. A computer hacker can easily penetrate an open network and read files and folders contained on the system. The firewall blocks system requests from unknown IP addresses, which is similar to a phone blocker that blocks phone calls.

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