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What is a Firewall?
A firewall is a security measure that protects a computer or a computer network from unauthorized access. Unfortunately, there are a lot of devious hackers working diligently to access computer information in today’s computer world. Whereas previously, the targets were large institutions, today's hackers seek out all sorts of personal information, including data from everyday home computer users.
A firewall can be software, hardware, or a combination of both. A good firewall will prevent hackers from accessing a computer. It will also keep information from being sent out from your computer without your knowledge. It will keep personal information safe. Firewalls don't prevent virus attacks but in some circumstances they can stop viruses from sending information from an infected computer.
If you use a broadband connection to the Internet like DSL or cable, you should definitely get a firewall. Such broadband connections are always on shared networks. It is easier for an intruder to break into your computer if you are using one of these connections. So it is essential to have a firewall on a computer that uses DSL or cable to connect to the Internet.
Even if your computer uses a dial-up Internet connection to get to the Internet, a firewall can be useful. (Note: If you use a regular telephone line and you click on an icon on your computer desktop to initiate your Internet connection, then you have a dial-up connection.) This is because there are programs like spyware and adware that are privacy-invading programs that piggyback on other software that you download from the Internet.
These spy-grams can gather personal information and send it back to the scheming people who developed the programs. A good firewall will alert you when a transfer of information that you have not initiated tries to take place, preventing spyware and adware from completing their devious tasks.
Do you hate spam? Well, some spammers are currently hijacking individual computers and using them to send out some of that aggravating spam. This can be done completely without your knowledge. This little ploy covers the tracks of the spammer and makes it easier for him to get his message out. A good firewall will alert you when something like this happens so you can keep your computer protected.
The easiest way to get a firewall for your computer is to use a software program that you can install just like any other program. Most software firewalls prevent unauthorized information from going into your computer as well as from going out.
You will, however, have to check before you obtain the firewall software to make sure that it is this type of two-directional firewall. Some firewalls only alert you when some unauthorized person is trying to enter your computer to access information. These one-directional firewalls do not check for unauthorized information that may be leaving your computer.
There is a firewall built into Windows XP, but unfortunately, it is a one-directional firewall. It will only check for information coming into your computer. If you use Windows XP, it is better than nothing, but a two-directional firewall is still needed for complete protection.