The Security Angle
But back to security: The answer to this was well-expressed recently with a minor industry "event," "Personal Firewall Day." Its a site and PR campaign from an industry consortium called "Everybody But Symantec." Of course, its not actually called thatit has no namebut I dont understand why Symantec isnt involved. The group consists of McAfee, Microsoft, Sygate, TruSecure and Zone Labsrecently acquired by Check Point Software Technologies. Even though the name of the campaign referred to one recent day the consortium pitched as "Personal Firewall Day," in fact every minute of every day should be personal firewall day. The vendors named above and others all offer firewall programs that can protect users from the sorts of attacks that go bump in the night, whether youre at your computer or not. Whether you choose to turn your computer off or not, you still need to run a firewall, and the personal firewall is the best option for most people. PC Magazine recently reviewed several of these products, if youre looking to choose one.Running away from a problem usually is not a good solution to the problem, and turning off your computer to avoid Internet attacks is the worst kind of running away. Its not even effective. Unless youre going to avoid the Internet altogether you will be attacked, and if youre attacked you need to have protection, and thats why theres personal firewall software. Not only will you have a fighting chance against the problem, but by making it harder for attackers youll be part of the solution. Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Be sure to check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at http://security.eweek.com for the latest security news, views and analysis.
More from Larry Seltzer
Microsoft has recognized the importance of personal firewalls too. Window XP and Windows Server 2003 come with a rudimentary firewall called Internet Connection Firewall. ICF isnt a very useful firewall, although users running it are better off than users without it. The upcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2 will upgrade ICF and rename it "Windows Firewall." PC Magazine recently took a good hard look at it. Windows Firewall wont have all the features of third-party personal firewallsfor instance, it wont have tight control over programs on your system making outbound communicationsbut it will be turned on by default and will offer much more control over the security of your system than exists today in Windows out of the box.