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Windows 7: firewalls

07 Jul 2009   #1

Windows 7 7264x64(main), 7260x86(secendary), XP SP3 Triple Boot

well I had bad experiences with firewalls, I use to have zonealarm free version , but got tiered of it because of all the configuration that needs to be done, and I heard how many of the firewall solutions caused problems to applications even if you add the required exceptions, so I just stick with my anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and try to becarefull who I connect to. I usually have windows firewall disabled too.

So far I have no problems, why do I want to run a firewall? I assume because to protect your computer from being hacked right? or someone trying to ping you to death ( Denial of service attack ) , as a normal user at home I don't feel at risk, or should I?

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07 Jul 2009   #2
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit SP1

I suppose if you don't mind becoming a Bot machine, then you don't need one.

Please read Understanding and Using Firewalls
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07 Jul 2009   #3

Vista Ult 64bit - Windows 7 Ult 7264 64bit

Posted here, sent as reply to PM yesterday but we need to keep this in the thread

Hi akramh

Firewalls are a very important part of basic security, you need a firewall as a first defence against intrusion. AntiVirus and AntiSpyware provides no defense from outside attacks at all, they have different functions.
There are over 64,000 ports into your computer and any one of them can provide an attacker access to your machine, the only way to monitor what accesses these ports is a good firewall, it's the first point of entry and therefore the first chance to keep out unwanted visitors.

You misunderstand what a hacker scanning for open ports means, the ping is a request for acknowlegment, not for Denial of Service attack, that's against web sites and business servers not usually home machines but they could do that too if they wanted. Once a hacker receives an acknowledgement (ack) from a port(s) on your machine in the range he's scanning for, he basically has you right where he wants you and you'll never know it. A good firewall will make you invisible to this scan, basically a black hole where the ack request simply disappears with no reply.
Without a good port firewall, any hacker can find you and silently compomise your computer, and then do whatever they want. You may participate in a DOS attack against someone without you ever knowing about it. Those kind of hackers can aquire several thousands of machines and then turn them on all at once to attack a site or server with one simple command. Or they can steal your passwords to your bank site and clean you out before you know what hit you. I really don't have time to go too deeply into what & why a firewall is important, so I hope this is enough.

You need a firewall my friend, but not Windows firewall unless you like configuring advanced rules manually because the default config is rather open. Probably the best and least intrusive is Comodo Firewall Pro (CIS), it's also free. You need to d'load the Comodo Internet Security pack but you can install just the firewall if that's all you need. Run the installer in Comaptibility mode ( SP) and with Admin rights or the firewall will not function. Right click > Compatibility tab, check the box and select Vista. Ok it then right click again and Run as Admin option. Don't worry it works fine with W7 but just not the installer is fully compatible.

Install it Without Comodo AV (not good enough yet), decline the Ask toolbar and Comodo search options, and if you simply want an Enterprise strength firewall with minmum intrusion, install it as "Firewall Only" (without HIPS). On first run it'll ask to scan your system for known problems, I suggest you allow it unless you just clean installed and KNOW it's clean. Also, decline their offer that pops up on first run and you'll never see that again either.

Comodo has compiled a huge "white list" of known safe apps, so much of what you have will probably be recognized and the rules configured automatically. It also recognizes all known safe Windows services, front end loaders, and hosts so they're all configured right away too. You can join the Threatcast Community also (option in setup) where you can see what others are doing with certain program requests. For the first few days you will get some requests when you open new apps it doesn't recognize, if you know you're allowing a program access, clicl the "remember my answer" box before clicling Allow and you'll never see it again.
Out of the box, Comodo's default ruleset is perfectly fine for 90% of users, only really critcal users need to make advanced rules in Comodo, and that's very simple too. It also recognizes your network interface and configures that, usually without any action needed by you except maybe just saying Yes, configure my network settings.

I sure hope I've gotten you to change your tune on firewalls here, they're really important because millions of people run automatic port scanners 24/7 looking for people just like you...
Also, never run 2 software firewalls at once as they'll conflict, so make sure WinFirewall is disabled. You can however run a hardware and software firewall together (router and firewall) as they compliment each other.

Good luck

BTW, post your PM question into the thread and I'll post this reply, that way other members can learn from it as well. We like to keep all this open in the threads as PM help is frowned upon.
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07 Jul 2009   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x32

^ that is one giant PM

firewall = good thing.

i had a friend who always disables his firewall to play games and such. then one day his computer died. he kept getting pop-ups on his desktop for Viagra and hair care products. hated to say i told him so, but i did.....

so i'd keep it on.... and periodically check to MAKE SURE it's on.
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07 Jul 2009   #5

Windows 7 7264x64(main), 7260x86(secendary), XP SP3 Triple Boot

I have tried comodo today, had some dificulty at first it even made my w7 crash two times. when I get asked to allow yahoo messenger, and I press alow it crashes.. but for some reasons after uninstall and re-install it now works.. also had some trouble with vmware, as it turns out I have to allow vmware access to the internet or it won't be able to open a virtual machine..
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08 Jul 2009   #6

Vista Ult 64bit - Windows 7 Ult 7264 64bit

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by holo88
^ that is one giant PM
heheh...guess I still have a passion for user security...does it show much?

Absolutely, firewalls are a necessity, you simply HAVE to have one, even if it's only Windows firewall. Win firewall is not very good in it's default state, and not many users really know how to configure it properly to make it stronger. I took allot of flack on for that statement, but it all came from MVP's and IT specialists who had configured it differently from default. They failed to realize that my statement was made to 3 posters who were simple users, were running Vista Home Premium, and did not have access to the Win firewall config since it needs Group Policy Editor for that, and that's not available in Premium. The same will happen when W7 releases, most of it's sales will be Home Premium and users will not be able to change the firewall configuration, and in it's default state it's not that good...around 25% effective and that's nowhere near good enough.
I guess we'll have to see if they smarten up and make a GUI for all users to access it's advanced rules setup. Even if they do, most users have no idea what to do with advanced rules and may actually weaken it. MS needs to strengthen it's default setup big time.

@akramh - Good to see from your last PM that things are running smooth now. Just that small mistake during your first install, and then not allowing VM access to the loopback, but looks like you're running well now, and much more secure.
Good Work!
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09 Jul 2009   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate

As an IT professional, I cannot stress enough, and also endorse what Chappy said, but without a firewall, you might as well just send a welcome message to every hacker. For me, I am a firm user of Open Source technology, hence my choice for Untangle, It does it all for me straight out of the box. I don't use the AV portion, because it is part of the paid plugin, but the firewall is awesome. You can generate daily reports based on users or pc. The free "rack" comes with web filtering, firewall, vpn, and a lot of other useful utility plugins.
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