Free Firewall Protection
Everyone says that if you have an Internet connection, you should have a firewall. But can I use a free firewall, or should I pay for one of the commercially available firewall packages?
Free Firewall Software
Firewalls can be used to block unwanted access to your computer, or to keep rogue software from sending your personal info back to Hacker HQ. Firewalls are a critical component of a computer security system and a necessity if your computer is connected to a network or the Internet. Free firewall software can be downloaded from the Internet, and may also come with your computer's operating system.
You should be aware that some firewalls are hardware-based, and are built into the network routers that enable high-speed broadband Internet connections such as DSL, cable, satellite and fiber. My contention in the article Do I Need a Firewall? is that most people don't need a software-based firewall, but if you feel that you want the extra protection offered by a software-based firewall, continue reading for my list of the best free firewall tools.
By detecting and preventing intrusions, these free firewall software packages can help to keep your computer free from viruses and spyware that may slow down your computer, steal your personal information, and make you more vulnerable to identity theft.
Windows and Mac Free Firewall Protection
If you use Windows XP or a later version, then your computer already is loaded with a firewall program called Windows Firewall, which was previously called Internet Connection Firewall or ICF. To use this firewall you don't have to do anything, it is automatically turned on when you install Windows on your computer. To modify the settings of this free firewall or to simply access the program options, click on Start -> Control Panel -> Security Center -> Windows Firewall.
Got a Mac? Leopard users, go to the Security pane to manage the built-in OS X firewall. For earlier versions of Mac OS X, you can access the firewall settings via the Sharing Pane in System Preferences.
The built-in free firewall protection provided by your operating system will help to protect from network attacks, and it will also alert you when an unauthorized request for access to your computer is received. However, you should keep in mind that a firewall is not meant to replace or eliminate the need for a good anti-virus, anti-spyware, or anti-spam tool. They do a good job of protecting you from inbound attacks, but other tools specialize in locking down the outbound network traffic that can be generated by malware.
ZoneAlarm Free Firewall
One of the most popular packages for firewall protection is ZoneAlarm Free Firewall. This product is a basic firewall system that is designed to be easy to use and to block access to your system from hackers and malware applications. ZoneAlarm effectively hides your computer from network scanners that constantly probe the Internet for targets to attack. It will also alert you when a program already on your computer is trying to access the Internet, giving you the choice to block or allow the outbound network traffic. Paid versions of ZoneAlarm offers many additional features such as anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing and protection for wireless connections.
Comodo Personal Firewall
Comodo is yet another free firewall product that you can use to protect your system. This program offers free firewall protection, proactive security applications is part of a free suite that includes antivirus protection without slowing down your system. Like any good firewall, Comodo monitors inbound traffic and and defends against attacks. It also allows you to control which programs are allowed to access the Internet, the Host Intrusion Prevention System can proactively guard against the installation of malware, such as viruses, spyware and trojan horse attacks. The free version doesn't come with technical support or WiFi protection. To get these features you have to buy the PRO version.
Selecting a Free Firewall Software Program
There are many options for free firewall software, and if you know of a good firewall product that's not in the list above, feel free to mention it in the comments below. The key to selecting a firewall product that will meet your needs is to read through the description of each program and decide which features you really need. If you've already got a good anti-virus, anti-spyware, or anti-spam package, it's probably not a good idea to run more than one of those. They can actually interfere with each other.
And remember what I mentioned at the beginning of this article. You may be just fine without ANY software-based firewall. Read my article Do I Need a Firewall? for some background information on what firewalls do, and which kind you need.
Got something to say about firewalls? Post your comments below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Feb 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Free Firewall Protection (Posted: 9 Feb 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved