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How to Protect Your Computer and Network with a Firewall

Stay Safe Online

In today's society, your computer’s security is as important as your physical security. This is because we now rely on these devices for our shopping, banking and other daily necessities.

There are many methods for beefing up your computer’s security, including setting strong passwords (and keeping them secure in a password manager), keeping software updated and using firewalls. If you aren't familiar with firewalls though, we'll show you how they can improve your computer’s security.

Here's the information you need to know when it comes to how to protect your computer with a firewall.

What Is a Firewall and How Does It Work?

Firewalls act as sieves between the internet and your network/computer. You can program firewalls to let certain types of information in and keep other kinds of information out.

Some firewalls allow you to get specific about the information you let in or out of your network/computer. You can even choose what to do with each data packet.

Most of the time, it's only big businesses that get to control what comes into their networks on a packet-by-packet basis. This helps companies achieve network security and improve productivity among employees, as social media use can be restricted on work computers.

There are a lot of other configurations that can be implemented as well, but the downside is that only skilled IT technicians can tweak the finer details of firewalls.

Since private firewalls don't have the same features as those made for big business, they target malware. Malware is the biggest problem facing private computer users. It can spread quickly over the internet and can be used to collect information on you. Firewalls prevent these attacks by not allowing malicious sites into the network.

How to Install and Configure Firewalls

Almost every computer that runs on the Windows operating system has an internal firewall. This firewall is quite effective, but there are other firewalls on the market that are better. If you don't have access to these firewalls, this is what you should do to enable your native firewall on Windows 10.

First, while pressing the Windows key down, press X and click on Control Panel in the menu that'll appear. Once you're in Control Panel, go to System and Security and click on Windows Firewall. All you’ll have to do now is turn on the firewalls for both public and private networks.

Installing a firewall you downloaded from a trusted company will be different, but the configuration procedure is a uniform process across many operating systems.

When it comes to beefing up your computer's security, you have to make sure your firewall is safe. You'll do this by regularly updating your software and by renaming, deleting or disabling default user accounts and their passwords. If there will be a lot of administrators in charge of the firewall, create admin accounts that will have lesser privileges. Also, don't forget to turn off SNMP (simple network management protocol).

Now, you'll have to create firewall zones that will protect your information and hardware on a hierarchy of importance basis. Here is how you would plan out your firewall zones if you run a home-based business.

You would have a red zone (also known as the DMZ) where you would connect devices that don't need a lot of inbound internet traffic to a single router. These devices could be point-of-sale machines, VOIP systems and database servers.

Then you would have the amber zone. This is where you'd connect devices in your home that need a certain amount of inbound internet traffic to communicate with each other. These devices could be smart TVs, an AI voice assistant or video game consoles.

Lastly, you would have a green zone. This router would connect devices that need high inbound internet traffic. This is where you'd connect your home PC and smartphones.

The more you tailor your zones for a specific purpose, the safer they'll be.

Common Features

Most firewalls block unauthorized outbound/inbound connection attempts and alert the user based on content and source of destination.

Firewalls also stop applications from unnecessarily accessing the internet; this is also how they stop attacks from hackers. Another feature is that they can show the details of the server that your computer is trying to connect to.

Firewalls allow selective access to the internal sources. Firewalls with VPN functionality make it safe to connect to certain networks like corporate set-ups.

The Best of the Best

There are various kinds of firewall software available online. This is why we've decided to show you the best firewalls according to their categories.

Network Firewalls

ZoneAlarm is the most popular software firewall because of its intuitive design. It also has a feature called Auto-Learn that studies your internet usage and blocks traffic from all sites you don't use.

Another firewall called GlassWire shows you all the data packets that travel to and from your devices.

Anti NetCut 3 runs in the background, tracks all potential risks and terminates attacks as they come. Despite this firewall’s effectiveness, you don't need to have any technical knowledge to set it up. All you have to do is download and follow a few prompts.

Identity Theft Firewalls

Norton has the perfect identity theft firewall that is accessible to all: LifeLock. LifeLock ensures that you are protected from credit fraud, identity theft and data breeches, so you can rest easy when it comes to online shopping or making online bank payments. It comes with a collection of features such as a Privacy Monitor Tool, Stolen Funds Reimbursement and Lost Wallet Protection. The standard program starts as low as $9.99 per month.

All-in-One Firewalls

Norton Security Deluxe is both easy to use and tough on spyware, viruses and other online threats. If you pay for the subscription, you'll also get personal assistance from Norton's staff.

Internal Firewalls

AntiARP is the best firewall for internal networks because of its proactive virus-fighting design. AntiARP doesn't wait for ARP attacks to happen but intercepts them instead. This firewall also intercepts DoS attacks, cleans all traces of ARP viruses and traces hackers.

To ensure the safety of your internal networks, install Bot Revolt Anti-Malware. This firewall looks for unsafe connections; it can recognize and neutralize them every 0.002 seconds. This is why it has managed to block over a billion of these unsafe IP addresses.

Firewalls for General Home Use

Free firewalls are notorious for bombarding you with ads and solicitations to upgrade to the “Premium” plan. The exception to this is TinyWall, which was designed to complement the existing Windows firewall.

Another firewall that's good for your home network is Comodo. It's good for first line defense and it has a Default Deny Protection feature that prevents many basic viruses on PCs from spreading.