Chapter 17: Mastering Dial-Up, Broadband, and On-the-Go Networking
Enabling and Disabling Windows Firewall
Windows Firewall helps prevent hackers and malicious programs from gaining
access to your computer. The firewall blocks access to your computer through net-
work or Internet connections. The firewall can also block packets being sent by your
computer, helping to protect others from malicious content on your computer, such
as a virus or worm. The firewall is essential to help protect your computer and your
data, and you will want to enable it.
If you enable Windows Firewall, make sure you do not run other software firewalls
on your computer, as it takes considerable effort to troubleshoot networking issues
when you have multiple firewalls enabled on your computer. If you are using an
Ethernet router, you should enable the firewall on the router as well, as this will also
help block attacks against your computer. While no firewall has the capability to
stop all harmful attacks against your computer, it is well worth the time to configure
Windows Firewall and any firewall that may be available on your Ethernet router.
Windows Vista offers you the ability to configure the options of the Windows Fire-
wall feature by giving you an easy-to-use interface. You can determine the status of
Windows Firewall by following these steps:
1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel. In the Control Panel, click the Net-
work and Internet heading and then click Windows Firewall.
2. As shown in Figure 17-17, you’ll see a summary of the firewall status and config-
uration. To change the firewall settings, click “Change settings.”
3. In the Windows Firewall Settings dialog box, you can then use the option on the
General tab to turn the firewall on or off. To turn the firewall on, click “On (rec-
ommended).” This setting allows the firewall to block incoming connections. To
turn the firewall off, click “Off (not recommended).” This setting turns the fire-
wall off and makes your computer vulnerable to remote attacks through net-
work and Internet connections.
4. When you are connecting to networks that are less secure, you may want to
block all incoming connections to your computer. To do this, select the “Block
all incoming connections” checkbox. This setting ignores all settings in the fire-
wall configuration and blocks every connection to your computer. This setting
also turns off notifications.
5. Once you have completed making changes to the firewall settings, complete the
steps by clicking OK, and Windows Vista applies your changes to the system. If
you are a member of a domain and you cannot change some of your firewall
configuration options, your network administrator may be controlling the set-
tings through Group Policy. You also need the correct credentials to change your
firewall settings. If you do not have local administrative rights, the advanced fea-
tures of Windows Firewall are unavailable for your configuration.