When you connect to the Internet, you get connected with the largest network of computers spread worldwide. The Internet connection established on your computer is a two-way road, which allows programs installed on your computer, to access web resources, while also allowing other web services on the Internet to access your computer resources.
Hackers can use this two-way connection to gain unauthorized access to your system resources. To prevent this, you need to have a firewall installed on your computer. An antivirus software is about computer security, while a firewall is devoted to Internet security.
How Do Firewalls Work?
The job of a firewall is that of a filter, which controls what information is downloaded to your computer and transmitted by it. The user can control which software services are allowed access to the Internet and which aren't. It prevents unauthorized telnet and FTP connections from being established with your IP address. It prevents viruses from accessing the Internet from your computer. It needs to ensure that no data is leaked out of your computer through any of the ports, used to connect with the Internet.
A firewall should prevent remote login sessions, SMTP session hijacking, denial of service attacks, email bombs, and prevent the dangers arising out of application backdoors, source routing, and redirect bombs. In conjunction with a good antivirus software, the firewall creates an effective bulwark against hacking attacks. By controlling the firewall settings, you can control the flow of information towards or away, from your computer.
Top Options for Windows 7
Recognizing the need for an effective third-party firewall program for Windows 7, there are many free programs made available for the new operating system. Here are four of the best options available right now.
Comodo Firewall/Internet Security
Widely approved as one of the best, Comodo Firewall protects your PC from external hacking attacks. It is a part of the Comodo Internet security package. You could install either or both to protect your PC. This one is highly recommended.
ZoneAlarm Free Firewall
ZoneAlarm is another great software which you could use on Windows 7. It ensures that your data is not leaked by hackers, by gaining remote access to your computer resources. This one is also highly recommended.
Outpost Security Suite
This is another free firewall option at your disposal. It provides state-of-the-art security, which can prevent unauthorized access to your computer, while ensuring that the Internet speed is not slowed down.
Windows 7 Firewall
This is the default firewall provided with your Windows 7 installation which is quite effective in controlling inbound and outbound connections made to or from your PC. Using the firewall settings, you can customize the inbound and outbound connection rules for your computer to prevent external hacking attacks, which may take advantage of some loopholes in installed programs.
A combined installation will completely secure your PC from hackers. Just make sure that you keep your antivirus software updated regularly and prevent computer viruses from drilling holes in your computer firewall. In my personal opinion, the default firewall, that comes with the operating system installation, is good enough to protect you from most threats. Unless your PC needs a very high level of security, there is no need to install a separate one. If you are not satisfied with the default, you can always install any one of the above programs.