Familiarizing Yourself with How to Use Firewalls

Using a Firewall

Your home computer security should include having firewall protection for your computer in order to protect both incoming and outgoing information. Use the tips below to familiarize yourself with terms and features you will need to know about for maximizing the effectiveness of your firewall.

Firewall Compatibility

Firewall programs work with your computer’s operating system to protect the information coming into or leaving from your computer. Each computer has an operating system. For computers that come with firewall protection software, if you use that program you will not have to worry about whether the firewall program is compatible with your operating system. However, many people choose to use a different firewall program from the one that comes on their computer whether for higher level security or a preference for a specific firewall program. In the case of installing your own preferred firewall program, you will want to make sure that the firewall is compatible with your operating system. If you rush to download a firewall that does not work with your operating system it will likely fail to install or will deliver an on-screen message that it is incompatible with your operating system. However, it can also create problems that require reinstalling certain programs that can cause you to lose information stored on your computer.

There are help sites available for all brands of firewalls that you might use on your computer. You can obtain help regarding a specific firewall program by using the name of your firewall program to contact the manufacturer for assistance. Many of these companies provide online assistance. Before installing a program or an update, you should check with the company about the benefits and risks associated with firewall installation.

Always make certain that you backup your files. This is true whether you have firewall experience or not. If your computer has problems or is disabled for any period of time, your file backup is the best way to protect against interruption of your ability to access your files and perform needed tasks.

Firewall Costs

Firewall options range from free to very expensive. Many problems that affect your choice of firewall will not apply to you as a home computer user, so that you won’t have to choose expensive security systems that often require computer expertise in their maintenance because they deal with computers that are part of larger networks. This means that many free options for computer firewall protection will work for you. Read reviews about some of the features of the free firewall programs and consider contacting the firewall company with specific questions.

Extra Layers of Protection

Routers provide an independent IP address from your computer. The separate IP address on your devices makes them each less susceptible to a security compromise that affects one, and can add an extra level of protection for your computer because the router IP address will be the one associated with your device rather than your home computer IP address. Routers do not replace the need for firewall software on your computer but add another level of protection for your computer.

Customizing your firewall software will allow you to increase the level of security or lower the level of security, usually using a preset option menu that comes with the firewall. Though it might seem best to simply choose the highest level of security, there are reasons that people choose not to do this, including the fact that too many incoming IP addresses may be blocked from your computer, making you have to allow for the simplest incoming messages. Instead, if you want to block a specific IP address, your computer will allow you to filter out that address while maintaining a less stringent security level.

You Still Need Anti-Virus

Even with a firewall that sufficiently protects incoming and outgoing data from your computer, antivirus software is a must. This can be part of your firewall software options or separate software. Viruses and malware can basically be smuggled into your computer when they are connected to emails that you might open or various IP addresses that are not yet screened away from your computer. Often you will get a “suspicious” message about addresses that are recognized by your computer or that your computer’s software considers “junk”. Deleting messages from addresses you don’t recognize before opening will help protect your computer’s security.

Periodically check on your firewall settings. While there will likely be ongoing communications between you and your firewall in the form of popup messages that vary from asking you to allow or deny access to various incoming messages, to a popup indicating the availability of an update to firewall programs, you should also look at your computer settings to make certain that the features you believe you have activated are on. Additionally, you might want to manage your filters file.

There are affordable services that you can use to check out your computer and update your operating system or firewall. These services can sufficiently provide you peace of mind if you feel uncertain about how secure your computer is, or more significantly, if you detect a specific problem in terms of computer speed that can often indicate something that might be a problem for you on your computer.

While computer security is a complex field, personal computer firewall protection does not have to be difficult. Use the tips above to familiarize yourself with what you need your firewall protection to include.

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