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Firewall software needed with router?

by dlk12758 / December 12, 2005 11:47 AM PST

I've read that a router provides protection against intruders or hackers. Do I still need a software firewall if I have my home network hooked up using an ethernet router? I've been using both both I'm not sure if the software(Zone Alarm) is really needed.

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Router protects you from incoming traffic
by elbaso / December 13, 2005 4:12 AM PST

Hi. All routers will act as a hardware firewall that protects you from inbound traffic. No one outside of your router will be able to access your internal network.
One thing that routers won't protect you from is outbound traffic, such as a trojan horse or spyware on your computer trying to communicate with its home server. This is where ZoneAlarm would come in handy, since it can block outgoing traffic.

It's up to you if you want to use ZoneAlarm to protect against outgoing traffic. Personally, I rely on my router and good internet behavior (i.e.: don't use Internet Explorer, don't open attachments) to protect myself against spyware.

Hope that helps

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by dlk12758 / December 13, 2005 6:40 AM PST

I appreciate your thorough response. I suddenly lost connectivity to one of the PC's on the network and I suspect ZoneAlarm has something to do with it. Based on your reply I will remove ZA and hopefully the probelm will go away too.

Thanks again!

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Dont remove Zonealarm!
by rraman_2002 / December 15, 2005 7:00 PM PST
In reply to: Thanks

I have been using Zonealarm for quite sometime and it has come in very handy several times. Dont remove this. However, you can add the IPs of system(s) in your home network to the Trusted network list to ensure that you can communicate to the others in the network. Also, look up Program Control tab to check if the program you are using is blocked from sending outbound traffic.


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Wow, I hope everyone really READS that article...
by tedbeari / December 15, 2005 8:14 PM PST

While it was informative, READ that he said it was to make people AWARE that programs can still give permission to access the internet without your knowledge... Firewalls are still a good thing and can help in a LOT of instances! I hope a bunch of people don't just remove their firewalls because of the article! Arrgh! Just check your program access list frequently! True, it's possible something may give access that you don't find until too late - the price of installing something you don't know much about - the risk we all take being on computers. Minimize what risks you can with a firewall, and yes Zone Alarm is a good one as it does block outgoing traffic as well.

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What about Norton
by WilliamKazak / December 16, 2005 12:16 AM PST

What about Norton Antivirus auto protect?
Norton wants the user to shut off Windows XP firewall,
so that Norton can do it for you.

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Yeah, What about Norton
by grichardth / December 16, 2005 5:45 AM PST
In reply to: What about Norton

I had Norton Security Suite for about 6 months when its intrusions into my computing just got to be too much. I uninstalled all of their programs and switched to Avast. The price was right (FREE) and I got rid of the intrusions. Norton managed to leave behind a few footprints, but a hard disk crash and reinstall finally got rid of those. Happy

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What I felt about ZoneAlarm-Panda and Norton
by WilliamKazak / December 16, 2005 9:56 PM PST

Years ago,I tried ZoneAlarm,free version.My e-mail was not getting through correctly and I was getting interupted because of all the intrusions.I had to constantly "teach the program" what to filter.It could never learn.When it came time to uninstall,the program would "never go away". Deleting from the registry did not even eliminate all of it.
Firewalls are "nuts",especially when I am behind a router.What is a guy to do? Panda titanium wants to be exclusive because of their worm protection and wants me to leave my XP firewall off.On the other computer,with Norton,I just turned XP firewall on.Only one computer can properly network to the other but the other computer gives an error message that I cannot access the first one.Strange.
McAfee gave me so many problems in the past with their antivirus/firewall suite.Tech support is so bad with all of them that I just mentioned.I would have to pay to talk with a real person.
What we need is a professional software,anti-virus and firewall combination.We do not need these mass-marketed programs.They are not for professionals.

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I use Kaspersky
by Whitesnake / December 17, 2005 4:10 AM PST

Anti-Virus 5 and my router's firewall and I have no problems. My PC is scanned at start-up and a full scan later in the day ... I also do scheduled scan with MS Anti Spyware and AdAware and I also have Spy Sweeper.
I get no viruses, spyware or anything and on top of that KAV 5 covers attacks by worms, trojans etc; so I reckon I've got the best deal.

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by jdbwar07 / December 19, 2005 1:20 AM PST

"What we need is a professional software,anti-virus and firewall combination."

I have PC-Cillin 2005 by Trend Micro and it works great. You don't hear about PC-Cillin as much as Norton or McaFee, but as a home user, it seems to me to be an excellent all-in-one security suite for windows..

It has a firewall and anti-virus (like you want) and other features such as wi-fi intrusion detection, spam filter, private data protection, etc.

I'm writing this because I've been using this program for about 6 months and haven't had any problems with it. It doesn't seem to slow down my laptop at all(I've heard Norton's programs use a lot of memory), and while I haven't had to use their customer service, I've read reviews of it and it seems their phone support is very helpful and doesn't cost anything (within the warranty period after you buy it of course).

PC-Cillin also has a trial version you can download for free from their web site for evaluation. I'm not an IT guy or computer expert, but I thought I'd just recommend this program since it's not widely known but works great for my needs.

Also, whatever program you get, be sure to have at least two anti-spyware programs (i.e. along with a professional security suite's spyware scan also get one or two of: ad-aware, spybot, MS anti-spyware, etc.)
In my experience no spyware program works for everything and it's best to have at least two. I've often scanned for ad/spy-ware with one application only to use another and find spyware the first didn't pick up.
Hope this helps,

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Extremely interesting, because here's my situation
by jwb-23834 / December 16, 2005 6:04 AM PST

I'm fascinated by this discussion, as it has impacted me seriously and, as a result, a lively discussion is going on in my household. Here's an email I sent to Rob Pegoraro at the Washington Post and J.D. Biersdorfer at the NY Times to get their take on it (if they feature my letter in their columns). I'd also appreciate anyone else's (Note: I never open attachments unless I'm expecting them, and my Gmail account has been pretty much spam-free):

I have a new (April 2005) custom-built computer with XP Scene edition, which is run on a home network linked to a satellite modem. I'm a big believer in downloading Windows updates and always did it on previous computers. I'm also a confirmed fan of firewalls and have always had one since getting broadband in 2000. However, since owning this computer, I've been hit by so much spyware (despite several updated and regularly run spyware programs -- Spy Sweeper and Spybot, as well as Norton AV 2005), it had to be ghosted back to its original configuration last month. (I added Ewido after the ghosting.) My husband and his computer-whiz friend, who built the computer and our network, blame Windows updates for my spyware problems -- they fervently believe the Microsoft website is a magnet for hackers, and also think that Microsoft purposely includes spyware and viruses in their products (they're full-fledged conspiracy theorists). However, I'm really concerned about security issues -- even though I don't use IE or Outlook (I prefer Firefox and Opera browsers, use Gmail for email and Thunderbird for RSS feeds and newsgroups), several recent articles have pointed out that XP has several glaring problems that require patches, and I'm worried about what might happen. But my DH and his friend don't update Windows and have never had problems, while I've been a regular updater who's been besieged with trouble. Since the ghosting, I haven't updated Windows.

They also think running a firewall is ridiculous, and point out that our server, which is an old computer, serves as our firewall, so no additional software on either computer is necessary. Hubby points out that he has no firewall and hasn't been hit by anything, but mine, which had Omniquad, was assaulted (more conspiracy theorism). When we set up the network, I originally subscribed to their prescription, but was hit by so much junk that my computer was virtually disabled, so I installed a firewall (in addition to the spyware protection I already had). However, it obviously didn't provide much help. I've been running it without a firewall since the ghosting and haven't had any problems, and our friend, who runs a multi-computer network in his home, has never used a firewall and says he's had no problems.

FYI: when I download any type of file, it goes straight to a designated folder, where I scan it with Ewido and NAV before opening or installing it. DH, on the other hand, scatters his all over his computer and never scans them, trusting his AV and spyware programs to automatically protect him.

Overall, I'm baffled by the situation -- I'm the one acting like a responsible computer owner, but am getting hit with all the problems. I'd appreciate your thoughts on these two issues and any suggestions you might have.

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I agree
by WilliamKazak / December 16, 2005 10:08 PM PST

I use the MS Antispyware,Spybot and AdAware.I am behind a router.I have Norton Antivirus.I had my Win XP firewall off but now I want it on.
I get viruses and spyware anyway.In my case,they come from visiting websites and from downloading pics from websites.Some sites automatically put viruses and/or spware onto your computer for you just by going there.Some of this stuff gets caught immediately and some gets found later by the scans that these antivirus/spyware programs provide.
I don't believe that any of these programs are for professionals.They do not do a professional job.
I think the filtering problem is with the ISP's and the web hosting services.They all make money.They allow this traffic to occur on their networks.They do not handle it on their end.

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M$ AntiSpyware
by cahartley / April 7, 2006 2:02 PM PDT
In reply to: I agree

Microsoft's AntiSpyware is a terrific application for people who aren't otherwise protected. takes a BIG hit on the system.
I used it for quite a while but finally got sick and tired of waiting for up to HALF A MINUTE for my Excel documents to open. After disabling Antispy my apps open immediately so I finally removed it entirely.
As I was more than adequately protected in the first place....SOMETIMES less IS better.
I don't use the M$ firewall either.......I use another application for that.

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Spyware is odd stuff
by konwiddak / December 18, 2005 10:07 PM PST

I have two computers, a laptop and a desktop which has three different operating systems. The laptop was recently scanned and was ridden with spyware, which was to be expected as i had been using it for years with no antispyware software (thou i had firewall and antivirus)
Then onto my desktop. I have three operating system installs, one of w2k and two of xp professional. The strange thing is that although they have all been used similar amounts, my most recent install of xp is completely clean, whilst the other two have a reasonable amount.
It seems that once you get some spyware you suddenly get bombarded with it, and even if you clean your system well you will still get it in copious amounts. The one with no spyware i have not been especially carefull or vigilant but i just dont install stupid things.
Whatever you do NEVER EVER EVER allow internet explorer to install active x applets. Many are good but many more are ridden with spyware, and they contain nasty stuff as you are actually allowing access to your computer.

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It is weird
by jwb-23834 / December 19, 2005 4:00 AM PST
In reply to: Spyware is odd stuff

I was interested to see you have more than one operating system, because so does my DH. He's a diehard games fanatic and has several that will only run on older systems, so he has Win 98 as well as XP. He thinks 98 is taking all the spyware and protecting XP. If that's true, I might load my old 98 on another drive and see what happens. But you're right about spyware -- it's definitely weird and hits you all of a sudden. I never use IE -- I had to in my previous job, because I had to log into a database that would only respond to IE, never Netscape or Firefox or even Opera imitating IE. But other than that, I never use it, nor do I use Outlook. MS stuff really is virus- and spyware-ridden. You'd think they'd do more to protect it, but the fact that they don't contributes to the conspiracy theories of my DH and his friend -- and they might not be too far off base.

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Coincidentaly Interesting!
by kbenko / December 15, 2005 9:50 PM PST

Just this morning I solved a long time problem with my wireless router. It would not allow me to play news videos from MSNBC. I was finally advised to diable the router firewall and WHA-LA! So, it's software for me from here on out.

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pardon my French, kbenko
by cnetcomr / December 16, 2005 5:34 AM PST

i think you mean, voil

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Not necessarily needed but definitely good practice
by shashinka / December 15, 2005 11:39 PM PST

A hardware firewall to protect you from external threats is definite. I have been running several companies such as netgear, linksys, d-link, and cisco, etc. These have been set-up at homes and small/medium business by myself as a network consultant. I would also highly recommend that a software firewall on the machine is used. Yes it maybe a hastle but it blocks thing that you don't know about. I don't think that the program can bypass a firewall on the machine but it will pop up a message if you have your firewall set to manually challenge all programs so you know what is goin on. This client based firewalls not only protect you from transmitting out things that you don't want but it also protects you from other devices on the inside of your network that maybe compromised or hackers on the inside (for such as a corporate environment). At many organizations I have seen constant threats of viruses on the inside attacking other machines because they didn't have the proper protection and patches installed.

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Short answer, no with a but...
by CaptainArcher / December 16, 2005 4:05 PM PST

Software firewalls do very little to truly protect you because they can be turned off, even without your knowledge or permission. They can be useful for monitoring outbound traffic, in order to find out what your computer is telling the outside world however. Listen to a podcast called Security Now, hosted by Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson for more info. Links can be found at or by searching on iTunes.

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Short answer, no with a but...
by cahartley / December 17, 2005 12:08 PM PST

I am behind a hardware firewall in my Linksys wireless router dsl network, have the XP firewall turned on, run M$ AntiSpyware (which is fabulous by the way) AND use the ISS BlackIce software firewall.
I periodically run LeakTest from
The ONLY times LeakTest was unable to access their servers was when BlackIce was enabled. The hardware firewall surely protects from INCOMING probes but does NOTHING to stop errant outgoing junk. you want TOTAL protection? DO NOT buy a ''SUITE'' of junk, overpriced bloatware to overload your system. Buy a dedicated product that WORKS.

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Great site to learn more
by WilliamKazak / December 18, 2005 1:09 AM PST

That was a great URL to learn more about firewalls.Thank you.

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