Today, the Internet is reminiscent of the wildest days of the Wild, Wild, West. Your stagecoach through the World Wide Web can be hijacked at any instant if you have no knight in firewall armor to ward off any viral intruders. When your computer is connected to the internet with no firewall running, it is vulnerable to attack from spammers, hackers and phishers.
Much like human viruses, computer viruses run the gamut from the benign to the fatally destructive to the computers they infect. And just as with human viruses, prevention is better than cure. Prevention begins by stopping them in their tracks at the portals of contact. This is where a firewall can come in handy.
An anti-spam firewall application will, to an extent, help in keeping viruses at bay. There is, however, no firewall that is 100% hacker proof – there are too many ways in which viruses can be embedded in a software download or regular data, for a firewall to detect and catch them all. However there are some relatively effective firewall programs available on the market, and some of them are actually free for your personal use.
At the bare minimum a home personal computer that is connected to a cable modem or a full time connection needs to have and run a personal firewall software program, as well as anti-spyware and some type of anti-viral program.
The ideal firewall will hide the ports that a hacker might use to gain access to your PC and protect your home PC from attacks, as well as track those attempted entries and prohibit unauthorized access or output from your computer. Two-way firewalls are the best as they block the threats that are incoming OR outgoing, to prevent things such s virus, Trojans or malware from being installed without you knowing it.
Windows XP, as well as the new Vista have a personal firewall built into the operating system that is by default turned on. Because it monitors and offers popup warnings many people turn it off, and leave themselves remarkably vulnerable to attack. The Windows firewall default of “on” should be maintained until and unless you find another software or hardware firewall to protect your system.
Some good freeware anti-viral and firewall software programs are available, such as Zone Alarm and Zone Alarm Pro. AVG also comes in a free as well as a pro version.Neither of these programs comes with adware attached and they are very good solutions to begin to address your internet security.
You will need good anti-virus programs to go after any viruses that may inevitably bypass your firewall. It should be programmed to either quarantine or, preferably, destroy them. Last but certainly not least, it is essential to always keep your anti-viral and firewall programs up to date with the newest patches and security updates. Most viruses target your C: drive, so scan it daily. And never, ever open any unsolicited emails or the attachments that come with them.