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The Internet is a two way street. If you can get out to the Internet, programs can get to you from the Internet. Hackers try to access people's personal information. Firewalls prevent this.

There are two kinds of firewalls, hardware firewalls and software firewalls. Most routers have hardware firewalls in them. I like to have both kinds between me and the Internet.

If you are running Windows XP I will upgrade your computer to SP2, which has a firewall in it. Otherwise ask me and I will install McAfee, Zone Alarm, or another software firewall programs on computers I clean. For fast connections (broadband, DSL, cable connections, Road Runner, etc.) you must have a firewall. For dialup connection it is not quite so critical.

Although you can have both a hardware and software firewall at the same time, two or more software firewalls are not better than one. In fact it's far worse, as they can trip over each other and mess things up. So if you have Microsoft Windows SP2 with its firewall, you don't want the McAfee or Norton Security firewalls on at the same time. By the way, this goes for anti-virus programs too. You should only have one running on your computer.

BUT firewalls can be a royal pain...
Some firewalls keep on asking you questions, most of which no one knows the answer to. But it's still better to have one than not. The general rule is that if a program called HACKERS R' US wants to access the Internet or your computer, say “No”. If you are unsure, you can always say, 'no, don't let it this time'. Then if something doesn't work that you need, you know to say yes the next time. Once you know whether or not you want a program to access the web, click the 'don't ask me again' box(s). Because the alerts are annoying, and most of these programs used to access the Internet anyway. You just didn't know about it.

Programs that access the Internet often stop working or won't install when firewalls are on. If some program stops working when the firewall's on, turn it off while using the program. Do the opposite to start it up again.

Alan L. Silverman
Computing Solutions
Stone Ridge, NY 12484
Copyright 2005
May be distributed for non-commercial purposes with attribution to author.

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