Sometimes you might find that the applications you’re using simply refuse to play nice with your Firewall, and even trying to allow exceptions into the software doesn’t seem to help matters. The temptation to simply turn off your firewall and be done with it might be pretty high. After all, all it does is complicate your network experience, right?
Actually, it does a bit more than that- and turning it off might be a very bad idea.
See, every network application on your system communicates with other systems- and connects to the Internet- through software elements known as ‘ports’. Think of ports like a door or window in a house, or a fortified gate on a wall. The firewall closes off certain of those gates, not allowing anything to enter or exit.
It’s for this reason that applications which you’ve recently installed generally need to be added to your firewall as an exception- it doesn’t yet know to leave those ports open for when they need to be used. With this in mind, it again seems like it’d be easier to just turn off the firewall. That way you don’t have to worry about having to forward ports, and connecting becomes that much simpler!
See, the thing is, while not blocking any of the ports on your PC makes it easier for your own applications to get through, it also makes it very easy for malicious applications- and people- to gain access to your system. End result? Turning off your firewall and browsing the ‘net unprotected, you’re almost guaranteed to pick up a few viruses along the way, or give some less than savory individual easy, remote access to your system.
Firewalls protect you from a great deal of attacks which would otherwise have gone through easily. While there’s certainly a great deal of malware that can get through the default ports easily (that’s why it’s good to practice safe browsing and install a decent antivirus solution), at the same time, there’s also a wide array of attack methods that are either completely blocked, or made far more difficult to pull off, by the presence of a firewall. Certainly, there are some who disagree with me- a few folks who believe that firewalls are on the way out. While they certainly raise some valid points…
I don’t believe they’re dead, whether in a corporate setting or a personal one. I think a great many firewalls could use some significant redesign- but just because a great many firewalls are poorly designed and not very well-programmed, that doesn’t mean that the whole idea of a firewall is flawed. That just means we’ve some improvements to make. Anyway, you can draw your own conclusions, but my recommendation?
Leave the wall up, at least for the time being.
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