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Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Pool Of Life
Insane since: Nov 2003

IP logged posted posted 03-06-2009 21:36 Edit Quote

Hello my fellow Asylumites.
I'm not here as much as I'd like to be of late and I miss this place a lot while I'm away. Still, that's the way things are at the moment, and as soon as it is practicable I'll be back posting like a demon, till you're sick of my verbal meanderings, confabulations and diatribe.

In the course of my days I'm often asked to look at people's computers to generally check them over for virus spy ware and wot-nots. In discussion with friends quite a few berate Windows firewall vociferously and offer quite a few alternatives while others say it is a good piece of software and is only voted down because of peoples bias against anything Microsoft.

So that got me to a wondering what people here might be using and what opinion you may have of Windows firewall. I know when using Ubuntu I don't use a firewall although I have seen one in the download manager thingamajig.

Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Florida
Insane since: Mar 2005

IP logged posted posted 03-06-2009 22:55 Edit Quote

To my knowledge, Windows firewall in XP and in Vista are quite different, the latter being much improved... but I still personally wouldn't trust either.

ZoneAlarm is pretty good, but...

I find the neophyte users who most need a firewall cannot really manage one anyways. Have to configure it for them and just hope they don't screw it up (quite optimistic).
Hardware firewalls are nice.

If you're in Unixland, it's iptables.

Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Pool Of Life
Insane since: Nov 2003

IP logged posted posted 03-07-2009 00:24 Edit Quote

Thanks reisio you've pointed out part of the for/against argument that I should have mentioned too with regards to XP's firewall versus Vista, I've heard that Vista has a better all round security system. I should also have mentioned that the Firewalls I'd be mostly interested in should be free.
I usually leave the default windows firewall on the systems I am tweaking and twiddling. The Firewalls I have been recommended to use are ZoneAlarm and Comodo. I have briefly used Comodo and it too takes a while to configure, granting permissions and so on. I guess you're right that this could prove daunting to a neophyte (I do like that word).

Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Pool Of Life
Insane since: Nov 2003

IP logged posted posted 03-08-2009 17:31 Edit Quote

I've checked on the website and the top three free firewalls for windows XP in the editor's choice and the reader's choice are:

I'm going to give Comodo a run through first as I've read that it is easier for the novice to use, and I'll be better able to access if others would find it easy to use too.
I'll also try out Zone Alarm in the near future and compare the two for ease of use, effectiveness and how much resources both of them use.

(Edited by Tao on 03-08-2009 17:33)

Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Madison, Indiana
Insane since: Aug 2000

IP logged posted posted 03-08-2009 21:15 Edit Quote

I've always likes ZoneAlarm, but it's gotten to be such a pig lately. It takes up a lot of resources on the machine and is getting kind of slow with all the extra features they've been adding in. It's also become an excuse for ZoneLabs to send me regular e-mails asking me to buy extra products.

The firewall I currently use is Brazil Firewall. It started life as Coyote Linux, but at some point the people supporting Coyote Linux decided to stop supporting the free version and the BrazilFW group took it over and are still supporting it. I've been using it for over eight years and have never had a problem with it.

If does take an extra machine to use, because it acts as a router and firewall, but it gives you a lot of freedom to explore firewalls that you wouldn't get from using the MircoSoft firewall or ZoneAlarm on your Windows machine. This probably isn't the firewall you want to try to use for a customer who just wants a firewall for their Windows machine connected directly to the InterNET, but you might want to play around with it for your own uses and education.

While looking at routers, modems, and external firewalls you might also want to check out Astaro. I haven't used it my self, but have heard a lot of good things about it.

Another thing to look into is that most routers and modems these days come with their own built-in firewall. Often the firewall is turned on by default so before investing a lot of time and/or money adding a firewall to the Windows machine, check out the modem they are using to see if the firewall has been turned on.

I haven't used Ubuntu, but all the Linux distributions I have used have a firewall built in through iptables, so you probably have a firewall on your machine without knowing it.


-- not necessarily stoned... just beautiful.

(Edited by hyperbole on 03-08-2009 21:20)

Paranoid (IV) Inmate

Insane since: Apr 2000

IP logged posted posted 03-18-2009 03:21 Edit Quote

I use a combination of hardware and software firewalls.

At home, I have a Cisco ASA 5505 firewall that handles my Internet access. I also have 2 Netgear FVS318 firewalls I use for testing and lab environment stuff. The problem with those is they can't keep up to my 20mb connection to the Internet. They max out in the 4mb range.

I also use the Windows firewall on everything (all 7 servers and 6 workstations and 2 laptops). I additionally use the Security Configuration Wizard on all Windows servers.

Considering the monitoring and security work that I do, I'm quite happy with the ASA 5505. Very flexible, very robust, excellent support.

Maniac (V) Inmate

Insane since: May 2001

IP logged posted posted 03-19-2009 01:46 Edit Quote

if you want to get crazy with it, you could set up a hardware firewall using some linux based firewall distro. they don't require a heck of a lot.

There was an HPR episode on some of them as well as his show notes



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