Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Using a firewall is an important first line of defense against network-borne threats to your computer. This section covers questions and answers relating to both hardware and software firewalls, why you need one and when you might not.

Can a virus be transferred into our system, or our router, from our granddaughter's smart phone?

For a virus to infect a smart phone, it would have to be written specifically for that smart phone and poses little danger to your network system. But what kind of protection do you need for (and from) her laptop?

Do I need a router if my modem has a firewall?

Routers and modems perform different functions and often come combined in one unit. I walk through the functions of a router and how you can tell which one you have.

Does my router have a firewall or not?

Most routers both do, and do not, have a firewall. The good news is that the protection offered by a router's firewall is often exactly what you need.

How can I tell if my computer's been accessed by someone else, and how do I prevent it?

Internet security is normally about keeping us safe from the internet - but what if the risks and threats are in our home and on our own local network?

How do I change my router's password?

Changing your router's password is important, but the steps aren't always obvious. I'll walk through changing my router's password.

How secure am I on a VPN?

Connecting to a VPN can introduce risks as you expose your machine to others on that same VPN. Fortunately it's easy to increase your personal security.

I can't pass a firewall test, what should I do?

Firewall tests can be useful to identify any holes in your security. Rather than relying on simple Pass/Fail, though, examine the results carefully.

I use Internet Connection Sharing and someone was able to see my main computer - why?

Internet Connection Sharing allows you to share the internet connection of one computer among several others. There are risks if not set up properly.

I'm told my firewall isn't working, but it is turned on. Do I have a problem?

I agree with you that this is somewhat unsettling. One of the things malware does is corrupt the firewall on your system in order to allow other malware to get on board.

Is an outbound firewall needed?

Many software firewalls will alert you on suspicious outbound connections. The biggest problem is that if correct, by then it's too late.

Is it ok to have more than one firewall?

Firewalls can do a good job protecting you from internet threats, but having too many of the wrong kind can cause conflicts.

Should I disconnect my modem cable when I'm not using my computer?

It's typically not necessary, or even desirable, to disconnect your modem when not in use, but there are steps you should take to stay safe.

Should I install another firewall if I can't turn on the Windows firewall?

My real concern here is the fact that you can't turn the Windows firewall on. That's bad!

So do I need the Windows Firewall or not?

You do need a firewall and particularly if you aren't behind a router the Windows Firewall is one option.

To whom do I report these IP addresses attempting to hack my computer?

It's not at all uncommon for random attacks to reach our computers and try to break in. That's why a firewall is needed.

Use a Firewall

What are these access attempts in my router log?

Any device sitting on the internet is subject to a constant stream of "internet background noise". It's why you really want to be behind a firewall.

Why are processes listening to closed ports on my firewall?

A firewall will prevent malicious and other messages from reaching your computer, but it won't stop your computer's software from listing for them.

Why do these firewall tests say I've failed? Should I be worried?

For various reasons firewall vulnerability tests can be alarming. Issues they report can be actual problems, or not, depending on your situation.

Why is my firewall software alerting me to a connection attempt from an address like 192.168.1.1?

Firewall software can help protect against remote intrusion attempts, as well as outgoing attempts. 192.168 addresses give a clue as to the source.