We list a number of Free Firewalls that you can download, install and play with. These free firewalls do not have time out periods and are truly free. If you find out a firewall is not free, please make us aware!
Many of the free firewalls knock the built in Windows XP Firewall (ICF) because it is inbound only. Windows free firewall is a “stateful” firewall which monitors all aspects of the communications that it sees and examines the source and the destination address of each message that the firewall is configured to manage.
Communications that originate from a computer outside your system, such as from the Internet, are stopped by the firewall unless you have told the firewall to allow such communication. This prevents common hacking methods such as port scanning. Windows free firewall creates a log file so that you can view the activity that is tracked by the firewall.
What inbound protection does is provide security against computers that are trying to connect to your computer by initiating a connection. However, should you first establish a connection with a hostile program or website, then the Windows Firewall will assume you want that connection and allow it.
Free Firewalls – The Dark Side:
Here’s the catch that most free firewall vendors don’t tell you about. Their software will prompt you when it detects an outbound connection (outbound connections happen regularly). Here’s an example:
Notice: svchost.exe is attempting to communicate with the internet. Should this be permitted? [Yes] [No]
The majority of computer users have no idea if they should allow this or not. At first, the average user will choose [no] only to discover that they can no longer visit internet sites or have prevented needed communication.
Want to guess what they’ll choose next time one of the free firewalls prompt them for permission? – the answer will be [yes]. Chances are that one of the times, it will be spy ware trying to communicate and because they choose [yes], they inadvertently set a rule that allows the wrong program to access the internet.
Free Firewalls, Windows XP ICF:
Guessing game or simplicity? For the average user, it’s much easier to activate Windows XP’s built in Firewall (ICF) than it is to continually make decisions about programs they know nothing about; although is provides some great protection, it’s not complete.
How to make Free Firewalls Better
Windows ICF is a great firewall, but is there a way to cover the hole that allows internal programs to initiate a connection? There sure is, and it is called the IPSEC Policy which you can downloaded and installed in minutes! Once you have the IPSEC Policy in place, your security should be tight enough for internet travels – and, the IPSEC policy works with all free firewalls that run on Windows.
The key in looking for any free firewall is the ability to block and filter inbound and outbound connections, but do it without confusing the user. There is a benefit to being prompted in that you will know exactly what program is trying to initiate the connection.
Free Firewalls other than Windows
In the end, choosing a firewall package is a decision you’ll have to make. To download and play with some of the top free firewalls, simply visit our list of free firewalls.
As I have time, I’ll review each of the free firewalls I have listed and make suggestions as to which one you should use. Until then, if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask them on our web security forum listed to the left. Just let me know what type of setup you have and I’ll do my best to suggest a possible solution made just for you.