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Beginners Guides: Firewall Setup and Configuration

Beginners Guides: Firewall Setup and Configuration - PCSTATS
Abstract: Firewalls are a necessity, but configuring them so that every internet-based program still works is often troublesome. With this guide, you can have your Firewall, and MSN File Transfers too.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Jul 31 2007   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Strengthening the pre-Service Pack 2 XP Firewall

The XP firewall is a very simple product. It provides basic protection in an effective and user-friendly manner, but it has a distinct lack of options, especially when it comes to adding extra security. About the only option that you might want to consider setting is to turn on logging, which is disabled by default.

Go to 'start/control panel/network and Internet connections/network connections' then right click on your Internet connection (which should be at the top of the page) and select 'properties.'

Now go to the 'advanced' tab and click on the 'settings…' button.

Choose the 'security logging' tab and enable the log for dropped packets and successful connections. Note the default location of the log at 'c:\windows\pfirewall.log' You can open this file with notepad to view recent failed and successful attempts to access your firewall. More on logs at the end of the article.

Strengthening the Service Pack 2 XP firewall

The newly upgraded Windows XP firewall is already superior to the original, since it now detects and blocks unauthorized programs within your system that are attempting to act as servers and allow connections from the Internet. There are still not very many options for further increasing security though. One option is to enable logging for the firewall, the control for which can be found in the ‘advanced’ tab under ‘start\control panel\windows firewall.

A second more secure setting is the ‘block exceptions’ mode that can be set on the main firewall configuration screen (‘start\control panel\windows firewall) by checking the ‘don’t allow exceptions’ box. This will prevent any program installed on your computer from acting as a server and allowing connections from the Internet. While this may prevent some legitimate applications from working correctly (Kazaa and other file-sharing programs being one example) it will ensure that no unauthorized or malicious program can allow connections either.

Strengthening Zonealarm

Like The XP firewall, the basic Zonealarm product has a limited set of customization options. There are a few things you can do if you want to assure yourself of the maximum possible protection though. Open Zonealarm, go to 'firewall/main' and click the 'advanced' button.

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There are a couple of options here that you may want to consider. 'Block Internet zone servers' will prevent any installed application from acting as a server, ie. accepting connections from the Internet.

This overrules the settings in the program control menu, and will almost certainly result in certain Internet applications like Kazaa, Instant Messenger file transfers and Net Meeting not working correctly. It does ensure that malicious software installed without your knowledge will not be able to expose your data over the Internet though.

The other setting is 'lock host file' which will prevent your system's HOST file from being changed. This can thwart certain forms of browser hijacking software, but can also interfere with certain above-board applications.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Firewall Setup and Configuration
 Pg 2.  Activating the Windows XP firewall
 Pg 3.  Zone Lab: Zonealarm
 Pg 4.  Home Internet sharing device firewalls
 Pg 5.  — Strengthening the pre-Service Pack 2 XP Firewall
 Pg 6.  Strengthening Home router firewalls
 Pg 7.  Allowing applications through a Windows XP firewall
 Pg 8.  Configuring Exceptions with the SP2 XP Firewall
 Pg 9.  Hosting with the Windows XP Firewall
 Pg 10.  Virtual Server Firewall Configuration

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