Computer Help forum

General discussion

Is a Firewall really necessary?

by meet_kareem / March 28, 2006 6:24 AM PST

I have Windows 2000 Professional.
Last year I was updating a Firewall & the system crashed. Many $$$$$ later my Technician had to reload Windows etc.etc. This took hours.
When I asked him about a Firewall he said that he had never used one for himself as he felt that the ''Bad Guys'' were not looking for us small ones. They want to get into bigger things.
Since October 2005 I have not had a Firewall & no problems.
I am on Rogers-Yahoo & use their Suite of Protective stuff. You will note that I am not technical.
Please give me some guidance here & recommendation if necessary.
I am a senior doing emails & some online banking.

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Is a Firewall really necessary?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Is a Firewall really necessary?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
by tomron / March 28, 2006 6:36 AM PST

You shoud have a firewall,I provided some links for you to check out.

Click HERE and HERE


Collapse -
I agree...
by John.Wilkinson / March 28, 2006 8:10 AM PST
In reply to: Firewalls

You really should have a firewall, as well as virus and spyware protection, especially since you're engaging in online banking. Malware exists that will infiltrate your computer, record everything you do, and report that information back to the sender. That can include your account numbers, pin, etc. Thus, you should have a firewall as a first line of defense, preventing such from slipping in, and just as importantly, from sending information out. Now, if I'm not mistaken, the firewall from Rogers Yahoo is ZoneAlarm, which is frequently recommended and well respected.

Check the suite that you receive through Rogers Yahoo and see if they include antivirus software (not just virus scanning for your e-mail), as well as spyware protection. If not, those are some other holes you should plug. If you would prefer to go the free route, Avast Antivirus, SpyBot, and Windows Defender make a good trifecta.

Hope this helps,

P.S. While it's true that hackers prefer the big fish, they'll snack on anything that they can. Some will try to steal your financial data for their own gain, while others will do damage for the fun of it. Thus, that tech was partially correct, but not someone I would want to emulate.

Collapse -
by joesmithers06 / March 28, 2006 8:24 AM PST

While it is true that actual hackers aren't likely interested in your particular system, unless you given them reason to be, there are still plenty of automated probe programs that seek out random computers and hijack them.

Given Microsoft's rather lax nature about patching security exploits in its software, simply having all the latest patches installed isn't always good enough. This is where a firewall would come in. ZomeAlarm and it's like are rather pitiful examples of a firewall, but they do a decent enough job of blocking the automated probes mentioned earlier.

I tend to prefer the firewall you'd find in a router myself. For one, most routers today have a firmware based on Linux, and so make use of the excellent iptables firewall. At the very least, they're usually stateful firewalls, which are considerably better than the like of ZoneAlarm which is stateless. Secondly, the firewall is running on its own dedicated hardware. I don't have yet another program vying for my system's resources. Third, I can set one policy and have it affect any number of systems behind that router's firewall. Four, I'm not bothered by repeated pop ups that are worded in such a way as to scare the security illiterate into thinking they would be better protected by buying the pay version of the software, and then any other services that company might offer. Five, bugs in a router's firmware aren't nearly as disruptive as bugs in a software program running on my computer. I could go on, but I think the point is clear.

One of the best things you can do for securing your computer, is to not use Internet Explorer or Outlook/Outlook Express. The latest security threat is spyware (and others have a veritable cornucopia of other terms for slight variations). That is, little programs that sit silently on your computer, monitoring your activity and reporting back. Some of these could easily be used to steal bank and credit card info, as well as everything needed to commit identity theft. The primary means by which these programs get on your computer, is Internet Explorer and Outlook/Outlook Express. So, to limit the avenues of these programs infesting your system, it's strongly advisable you use one of these three browsers (all others are based on IE). Mozilla Firefox, Seamonkey or Opera. All three are free, all three should pick up most of your IE settings (including Favorites), and all three currently have no known vulnerability to spyware. You can pretty much have your pick of email clients, but I might recommend Mozilla Thunderbird or the supplied email program with Seamonkey.

If you want to see if/how much spyware you currently have on your system, try downloading the program Ewido and seeing what it finds. If it finds anything, you'll also want to download AdAware, Spybot S&D, and Microsoft's Anti-Spyware. Sadly, no one program will clean up everything. Any problems with these programs, or getting rid of some pests, can be posted over on the security forum here.

Collapse -
by crazlunatic / March 30, 2006 4:29 AM PST
In reply to: Yes

I have like 4+ firewalls!!! I play online w/ lots of different people and who knows if they one day decide to hack me!! Always have a firewall...certain firewalls block incoming cookies from websites that have hidden stuff that trust you dont want!!!Firewalls have always been apart of my computer, and WILL ALWAYS BE!!

Collapse -
Get a firewall installed
by Willy / March 28, 2006 10:18 PM PST

Put it this way, "if you don't have home insurance and house burns down, what are going to do"?

Simply put, you may not need a firewall, 100% of the time but when present and does its job, the world continues on. Alot depends on your surfing habits plus if you've a "constant on link" to the web. If yes to that, its best to provide a minium of protections as trolling from malware sites or similar are always looking for a weak nodes and you may not knowe it until much later if unprotected. there are free firewalls that provide basic protection and the reason its free is because in that service alone your system isn't part of a larger problem of the web malware at large whatever form it takes. Get a firewall Happy

tada -----Willy Happy

Collapse -
by shankru85 / March 28, 2006 11:10 PM PST

Personally , i think that there is
no unquestionable truth
about this topic , even if i'd strongly
recommend to install an efficient firewall .

Despite i do not appreciate firewalls (nor NAT) ,
I cannot agree to your technician's opinion
just because many small things can be a big one .
I do not use firewalls (just like your technincian)
& i have very clean pc : i perform virus & spyware
scanning everyday & online scanning twice a week &
find only cookies (minor annoyance) .
That's because i have installed
excellent virus & spyware's active protection softwares .
However firewalls are a further & useful protection &
everyone should install one .
Visit this :

Good luck
White [ITA]

Collapse -
No it is not ...
by Edward ODaniel / March 29, 2006 2:04 AM PST

although it is a good idea.

If you KNOW that your computer has nothing running to service ports to the outside world you have no need for a firewall.

Of course if you were aware of this you wouldn't have to ask the question in the first place.

IE is NOT the problem nor is Microsoft nor is Firefox not Opera, the problem is the user not setting up computer security and maintaining it and the user downloading and installing "neat things" they have heard about or seen and thus INVITING outside access.

A firewall provides an additional layer of security even to those who know what is running and take security seriously (such as not browsing the Internet on an account that has Admin Priviledges) so yes it is a good idea and wise precaution but NO it is not necessary.

Collapse -
Sheilds UP!
by billzhills / March 30, 2006 2:53 AM PST
Collapse -
GRC *NOT* to be trusted
by joesmithers06 / March 30, 2006 5:39 AM PST
In reply to: Sheilds UP!

At least not without verifying the information from two unrelated sources first.

The second page contains a list of some of Steve Gibson's (the person behind career "highlights", in addition to the bulk of the article explaining exactly how he's wrong in this particular case and talking out his ****.

Collapse -
GRC May be true ...
by billzhills / March 30, 2006 6:17 AM PST

But one link does not make an argument for trust...

Collapse -
Nor should it
by joesmithers06 / March 30, 2006 7:13 AM PST
In reply to: GRC May be true ...

By your very own argument, I could turn right back around and say we shouldn't trust GRC, because it's only one link.

With the link I provided, you're given all the information needed to start doing a little research into the validity of the claims. You can also go to security sites like SecurityFocus, and scan through the BugTraq archives to see what real security experts have to say about Gibson.

On the one hand, you can research and verify what is contained within the article I linked, and even find opinions of other security experts who take dim views of Gibson's prattlings. Or you can do some research and discover that once you get beyond the basics, no one else seems to corroborate Gibson's claims/findings. Either way, if you take the time to do a little looking, it's not hard to find that Gibson shouldn't be taken seriously, and listening to him is to give yourself a false sense of security about your computer's security and eventually pay a very heavy price.

While probably a bit harder to take seriously based on the name of the domain, they do have quite the collection of links for your perusal.

Collapse -
if you've got a router
by ramarc / April 6, 2006 11:44 AM PDT

with a built-in firewall, then an additional software firewall is not critical. if you've got a linksys router that can run the talisman or alchemy firmwares, they will do a MUCH BETTER job than any software based firewall.

if you're using dial-up and have a major ISP (earthlink, netscape, aol, etc) and don't leave your PC connected all the time, then a firewall is somewhat optional because of your ISP's security measures and your transient presence.

Collapse -
by Rocker452 / March 31, 2006 12:22 AM PST

I've read both pro's and cons for a firewall and feel it depends on how you are connected to the internet. If you are going through a router you can probably get by without one on your computer since most routers are whats called a hardware firewall. Now if your directly connected through a cable,DSL, or phone modem then you defenately need a software firewall. I have SBC Yahoo and their security suite has E-Trust EZ Antivirus and a spyware app. called anti-spy and i believe they offer Zone-Alarm for a firewall.I'm on a wireless router with WinXP so i use the built-in Windows firewall with the router along with the Windows Defender anti-spyware program from Microsoft and it seems to work well, I stay virus and spyware free and have not been hacked as far as I know. Of course i also have encryption enabled on the wireless network as well. So in summary it is up to you to use what you feel is needed to secure yourself. I myself believe that most hackers aren't interested in common people, it just isn't worth there time to hack individual computers. However it is better safe than sorry.

Collapse -
by doctorcrack / March 31, 2006 2:57 AM PST
In reply to: Firewalls

I use DSL router to access internet, with hardware firewall. I enabled ''maximum protection'' but still was able to host a website to the internet using apache server! I checked again - web server wasn't there in the allowed apps list, but it was able to pass through the hardware firewall.

I have no clue what's going on - I assume that the hardware firewall is just like windows xp firewall - you know it's there - and you know it doesn't work! (If it does, how will the firewall companies make their $$$?)

I was growing sick and tired of all those viruses (which ate up my big personal photo collection in the year 2000, my guitar tutorial mp3's in the year 2002, my collection of free softwares in the year 2004, and finally my school project last year) and I am dual-booting with windows xp and linux these days.

In Linux, the firewall functions like it should. If you say ''NO'' the softwares are blocked at the port you specify without exception. In fact, my roommates can't access my comptuer as soon as I press ''stop firewall button''. It's instant - it's powerful. Wish windows comes with a firewall like that.

Zonealarm does an extremely neat job for me, except for when I'm playing a game and the game gets minimized to show the zonealarm notification, and my game character dies eating bullets in the meanwhile Silly

If you don't have a firewall, what could happen?

1. Your computer is taken over by a remote hacker when you're surfing websites using internet explorer. He uses YOUR computer, YOUR bandwidth and YOUR email account to send out spam to practically everyone in the world. And you keep wondering why is your internet slow!
2. You enter your email login and password in the browser or outlook, and a copy of username and password goes to a remote hacker. He can then utilize the information to READ all your emails, DELETE all your emails, SPAM others using your email account, and even LOCK you out of your own email by changing the password.
3. You enter your banking account password, and a copy of the password is sent to a remote hacker by a brand-new internet explorer bug.
4. You visit a porn site to freshen up a Friday evening. And next day onwards, you'll never be aware that each and every keystroke on your keyboard is being transmitted to somebody on the internet.

Beliive me, all this has happened to users. I have suffered with windows longtime (firewall is one of the issues, yes) and now I'm dual booting with windows and linux. I'll erase windows completely when I'm able to play windows games like Diablo under linux.

End of it.

Collapse -
Is a Firewall really necessary? ......................
by logger99 / March 31, 2006 5:13 AM PST

Not a computer leaves the shop without at least the free version of Zone Alarm Firewall on it. (And of course, the worthless Win XP Firewall disabled). Also included is the free version PopUp Stopper from Panicware. Include: Hijack This, AdAware, Spybot and an anti-virus (we prefer Norton) and you're set. About as good as you can "easily" get for reasonable protection.

Collapse -
Firewall is like having a lock on your door!
by freelancer2 / March 31, 2006 7:43 AM PST

Absolutely, I always use a firewall. However, not all "firewalls" are user friendly or compatible with Windows XP - Windows XP Professional is especially a tricky system to work with. One caution: READ all information in your software installation manual BEFORE installing. Personally, I'd NEVER download a firewall. Also, when it says "close all windows programs" DO IT! Leaving Windows programs running while installing new software is a definite problem! My experience with McAfee Security was a near disaster - almost enough to make ME stop using a firewall! I finally resolved the problems caused by uninstalling the non-working program and decided to stay with Zone Alarm. Zone Alarm is great for the experienced PC user, however, if you're a novice user I'd stay with Symantec's Norton Internet Security (which includes a firewall and antispam protection) With 2 working laptops in use we find both Norton's and Zone Alarm's products to be excellent protection.

Collapse -
Software more "latch" than lock. Hardware Firewalls?
by jkeese / April 1, 2006 12:37 AM PST

I've been told to stay away from firewall software solutions. Since the firewall is running in a Windows environment, it suffers from the security problems of Windows.

If you are really concerned about someone hacking your network, you should look into a hardware solution like Cisco or Netscreen.

They make small boxes that are specifically designed for this and are more difficult to hack than a Windows based solution. But even with one of these hardware firewalls, you will still need to know how to configure it properly to block hackers.

Kind of like do you need a "latch" on the front door of your home or a bank vault door.

Collapse -
Don't attach an unprotected PC to the Internet, even to...
by IndustryVet / April 6, 2006 6:41 AM PDT

just pull down all the updates!

Our techs did this at our major corporation and had a vulnerability pierced before they could even get the updates pulled down to make it somewhat more secure. It no longer matters whether what you are doing or whether you think of yourself as a "little fish". There are port scans being run almost continuously on ranges of IP addresses that will find you.

If you don't have a firewall, which I recommend, then you should have a router as NAT goes a long way towards security and then you can search for and run "Shields Up" which is a free service from Gibson Research which will test your connection and PC for vulnerabilities!

Good luck.

Collapse -
Definitely Need a Firewall !!
by wtrahan3581 / April 6, 2006 7:29 AM PDT

Hi Peter, You most definitely need a firewall. Don't believe that the ''bad guys'' are only looking for the ''big guys''. Hackers and other pests spend their time trying to get into anyones PC and wreak havoc. They can cause all kinds of problems that you probably blame on your OS or human error. I have been using Zonealarm for 3 years and it as blocked thousands of attempts to get ino my PC. It also can stop outgiing programs that may send out your personal information. You should also run anti-spyware programs like AdAware Personal and Spybot Search and Destroy, both free, as is Zonealarm for personal use. Also Avast Anti-virus is a great free solution and automatically updates. Any PC connecting to the internet should run these programs, Also, Peter you should consider going to Windows XP, your PC experience would improve greatly. Good Luck !! Wendy

Popular Forums
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
Laptops 21,181 discussions
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
Phones 17,137 discussions
Security 31,287 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
Windows 10 2,657 discussions


Help, my PC with Windows 10 won't shut down properly

Since upgrading to Windows 10 my computer won't shut down properly. I use the menu button shutdown and the screen goes blank, but the system does not fully shut down. The only way to get it to shut down is to hold the physical power button down till it shuts down. Any suggestions?