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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

Configuring Exceptions with the SP2 XP Firewall

As part of the upgrade to the XP firewall, Microsoft added a more elegant means of dealing with programs that need to act as servers. A server program allows other computers to connect to it to share data, via a network or the Internet. A good example of a program that needs to act as a server would be the Kazaa file-sharing software.

Instead of creating a service which permanently opens a specific port, you can now add programs to an exception list. Any program on this list will be allowed to open ports when it needs them, unrestricted by the firewall.

This is both more intuitive and more secure.
To add a program to the exceptions list, go to ‘start\control panel\windows firewall’ and choose the ‘exceptions’ tab.

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To enable an exception for a program or service listed here, place a checkmark next to it. If the program you need is not in the list here, click ‘add program’ and scroll through the list until you find it.

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Following the same principle, if you are experiencing problems with any application not communicating properly after you enable the XP firewall, in most cases you just need to discover the ports that application wants to use and open them in the way we just displayed.

A list of common applications and ports follows. Note that many of these applications, especially the file sharing ones, can be configured to use many different ports. If this is the case, you can choose a specific port to use yourself, and set it both in the application and in the firewall settings so everything works.

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Common Application Port Numbers
MSN Messenger:

Ports 6891-6900 TCP for file transfer, 6901 TCP/UDP for voice (otherwise self configures messaging)

Kazaa Media Desktop:

Port 1214 TCP (can be reconfigured within Kazaa)

Shareza:

Port 6346 TCP (can be reconfigured)

ICQ:

Port 5190 TCP, at least one port between 1024-65535

AOL Instant Messanger (AIM):

Should self-configure

Skype VoIP: Should self-configure

For more of these, consult the website appropriate to your software and look for firewall information, or bunker down and have a look through the software's network settings for port options.

Allowing applications through the Zonealarm firewall

With the newest revisions of Zonealarm, most common applications like MSN Messenger file transfer can be allowed simply by giving them permission to act as a server in the 'program control/programs' tab.

To do this open Zonealarm and go to the 'program control' panel, then click the 'programs' tab. Scroll down the list of programs until you find the one that is giving you problems. Left click on the question mark in the 'server/internet' section of your application's row. Change the setting to 'allow.'

Retest your application. It should now work correctly.

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Allowing common applications through Home Internet sharing devices

Configuring home routers to allow various applications to work correctly requires a different process for each brand and type of device. Fortunately these procedures tend to be similar to each other, so we decided to use a fairly typical example of these devices, an SMC Barricade wireless home router, in order to illustrate the general procedure.

Unfortunately, many common apps like MSN Messenger file transfer often will not work through home router firewalls. This is because these devices generally use NAT (Network Address Translation) to carry out their Internet sharing duties. NAT functions by storing Internet data requests from computers inside the home network in a table, then comparing the data received from the Internet to that table to see if the source and data type matches.

If it does, the data from the Internet is forwarded to the computer in the network that requested it. If not, it is dropped. The trouble is that NAT only recognizes certain common data types and will not pass on data that is not recognized. This leaves many file transfer and voice/video conferencing programs out of luck.

If your Home Internet sharing device has a 'special applications' page, or the equivalent, you can experiment with opening the required ports for the application. In our experience though, this tends to be a hit or miss procedure with NAT hardware firewalls. In this case, research is your best chance for success. Do a web search on the application looking for specific setup details.

Hosting websites, games and FTP behind your firewall.

Hosting a website or game server is a little different than using an application which may require special privileges to get through your firewall. For one thing, when you are hosting, it's implied that data traffic is coming from the Internet to your computer or network, not the other way around. This is a problem to start with, because by default, firewalls drop all unsolicited traffic from outside the network. If you have a website, no one's going to see it without some changes...

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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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