A firewall is a program that keeps track of what you’ve requested from the Internet. As information from the Internet comes streaming into your modem, the firewall takes a look at everything coming in. If the information is something you requested, the information rides in normally. If the information is not something you requested, the firewall rejects the information, so it never reaches your computer.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go out and buy a firewall, because there’s one built into Windows Vista. Chances are, it’s been protecting your computer from hackers since the day you installed or purchased Vista. But it certainly can’t hurt to take a look and make sure it’s running. First, you have to open your Network Connections folder. You can do so using any of the following techniques:
• Click the Start button and enter firewall into the search box. Select Windows Firewall from the selections that are displayed.
• Click the Start button and choose Control Panel. From the Control Panel home, click the Security heading, then click the Windows Firewall heading.
• Click the Start button and choose Network. In the Network window, click the Network and Sharing Center button in the toolbar. When in the Network and Sharing Center, select Windows Firewall from the left side of the page.
• If you see a little Notification icon that represents your Internet connection, right-click that icon and choose Network and Sharing Center. From the displayed window, select Windows Firewall from the left side. When you’ve selected one of these options, the Windows Firewall dialog box is displayed. This dialog box will tell you if your firewall is on or off as well as give you links to configure other firewall settings.
If your firewall is turned off, then you can turn it on by either clicking the Change settings link to the right of where you are told the firewall is off, or you can click the Turn Windows Firewall on or off link on the left side of the Firewall window. You can use this same method to turn off the firewall if it is on—something that it is not recommend doing since it protects you when it is on.
After you click the Change settings link, a new dialog box is displayed. You should make sure the General tab is selected; from there you can turn on or off the firewall by selecting the corresponding option. This dialog box enables you to not only turn on or off the firewall, but also configure a number of additional settings. On the Exceptions tab you can choose to make exceptions that will allow programs to get through the firewall.
Unless you know you need to make an exception, best to leave the settings as they are defaulted.
The final tab in the Firewall Settings is the Advanced tab. It enables you to configure a few advanced settings. This tab also includes a button called Restore Defaults that enables you to restore the default values for firewall settings. This is something you most likely won’t want to do since it may cause some programs to stop working if they require an exception to get through your firewall. Your version of Windows Vista may also have a second program that you find when searching for Firewall in the Start menu. This is the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security program.
You can also use this program to see whether your firewall is on. As you can see, the window is a bit more complicated than the standard Windows Firewall settings. For that reason, you may want to stick with the standard Windows Firewall dialog box for basic setup.
Source of Information : Wiley Alan Simpsons Windows Vista Bible Desktop Edition
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