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Should I use firewall by modem?
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 02:33
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Jan 8, 2007

I work on a laptop with XP Pro and F-Secure Internet Security. After I finally managed to install WEP-encryption on my Wlan-modem, I wonder should I also use the firewall the modem can provide or should I continue to leave the firewall function to F-Secure.
The problem is my internet connection seems sluggish, internet banking is often not possible and one has to click again on links that will not open at the first time.
Initially I had Norton installed, but I did everything to get rid of it.
What do you think?
Cheers
Heinrich


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:33
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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One firewall should do it Jan 8, 2007

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
...I wonder should I also use the firewall the modem can provide or should I continue to leave the firewall function to F-Secure.


IMO one firewall should be enough. Two don't always work well in tandem. You can have two anti-virus softwares co-habit peacefully on your computer, but two firewalls may interfere with each other as they both struggle (with each other) for control over your ports.

I'm not an expert in firewalls, but isn't a firewall a firewall? What does the firewall do except control access to your ports? Why should one not be enough?


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Cetacea  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 01:33
English to German
+ ...
Safest Option Jan 8, 2007

When I switched to an ADSL connection a year ago, my computer technician wouldn't hear of anything else than a hardware firewall to protect my system, and since his advice has always been sound to say the least, I chose a modem providing that option. I have never regretted that decision: My internet connection is very fast, no problems accessing the sites I want to get into (including internet banking), and, most importantly, nobody accesses my machine, even though judging by the modem's protocol, there have been attempts to do so.

In other words, I can only recommend using your modem's firewall, both for reasons of security and convenience.

Maybe I should add that I only use one firewall, i.e. the router's hardware firewall rather than a software firewall.


[Edited at 2007-01-08 12:44]


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:33
English to German
+ ...
Hardware Firewall is fine but ... Jan 8, 2007

We have been working with a hardware firewall for some years now and are very happy with it.

Recently, though, an IT security expert told us, that while many modem firewalls are a good protection against attacks from the outside, they often do not block calls from your PC to the Internet, so they are useless against software/applets installed on your machine, which are "calling home".

We installed a software firewall on one of our PCs to check this statement and found it to be true with our modem firewall. So if you care for your privacy, check the specifications of the hardware or modem firewall you wish to work with, whether you can customize it to block calls from the inside as well. The good ones can, as we were told.

Hope that helps.


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xxxMihai Badea  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Member (2004)
English to Romanian
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Hardware firewall + software firewall Jan 8, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:

IMO one firewall should be enough. Two don't always work well in tandem.


Two software firewalls would conflict with each other, but, for maximum protection, it is recommended to have both a hardware firewall and a software firewall.

See http://www.webopedia.com/DidYouKnow/Hardware_Software/2004/firewall_types.asp


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:33
Member (2005)
German to English
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I have three firewalls! Jan 8, 2007

Mihai Badea wrote:
Two software firewalls would conflict with each other, but, for maximum protection, it is recommended to have both a hardware firewall and a software firewall.
See http://www.webopedia.com/DidYouKnow/Hardware_Software/2004/firewall_types.asp

I actually have 3 firewalls: one is the Zone Alarm software that runs in the PC; one is the hardware firewall in my broadband router; the third is provided by my ADSL service supplier. They can all work as they are not competing for any resources, as would be the case with two software firewalls in the PC. Each one simply lets through, or blocks, data in transit, and the data that is not blocked is then passed on to the next firewall. Claudia's point about outgoing traffic is a good one. Zone Alarm can certainly be told how to handle this, but apparently the Windows XP firewall can't (according to my book "Microsoft Windows XP Inside Out").
I also like ZoneAlarm because its icon in the taskbar has "meters"that show me when data is flowing into or out of the computer.
Oliver


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 02:33
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
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AFAIK Jan 9, 2007

only two components are necessary- firewall- I have Linksys rooter at the office (specialists told me it looks just like computer running XP to anyone trying to break into from outside- though it runs a very cut-off version of Linux) and anti-virus (up-to-date KAV-6-first service pack) on every network computer- automatic database updates every hour and you can set your protection level automatically- either only against viruses, all known malware or even every registry entry change, which should be confirmed manually. I switched off the later option (though it gives you maximum protection) because it becomes nagging to confirm every half an hour that you allow your Logitec keyboard to act as a key-logger
It also doesn't allow any program on your computer to send out anything- unless you have explicitly allowed it.

OTOH, in this configuration software firewall (ZoneAlarm) started to cause problems with Intranet, so we discarded it as unnecessary.

At my country place, where I have only one computer, I use ZoneAlarm light (I don't need the other functions, as I have all the same in KAV) and also it serves well. Actually I have not had any problems for some 8 years.

Uldis


[Rediģēts plkst. 2007-01-09 00:30]


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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 01:33
German
+ ...
Exactly, and here's my two cents Jan 9, 2007

Claudia Krysztofiak wrote:

We have been working with a hardware firewall for some years now and are very happy with it.

Recently, though, an IT security expert told us, that while many modem firewalls are a good protection against attacks from the outside, they often do not block calls from your PC to the Internet, so they are useless against software/applets installed on your machine, which are "calling home".

That is correct. Any router wit NAT functionality is an efficient first level of defense against most "classic" attacks that would affect any PC connected directly to the Internet. This is due to technical reasons - the router does not even know which computer to direct the hacker's incoming packets to, unless the operator expressly creates a port forwarding scheme to open up the PC towards the Internet.

We installed a software firewall on one of our PCs to check this statement and found it to be true with our modem firewall. So if you care for your privacy, check the specifications of the hardware or modem firewall you wish to work with, whether you can customize it to block calls from the inside as well. The good ones can, as we were told.

That is also correct, but such a firewall is much more complex than the old IP-level packet filtering firewalls, which leads to a higher price and higher demands on the IT proficiency of the human system operator.

I find that if you are disciplined in your use of Internet resources (don't download pirated software or other stuff from dubious sources, don't open unrecognized attachments etc. pp.) and have a decent anti-virus package, you should not normally require a Personal Firewall (i.e. software) .

Best regards,
Benjamin


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 02:33
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Problem solved by switching to ZoneAlarm Jan 10, 2007

I have now the hardware firewall configured, but the connection was as sluggish as before, even after de- and re-installing my F-Secure 2006 and chosing the Office-setting for the software firewall. I noticed though, that my spare laptop running the free version of ZoneAlarm, is much faster connected to the same Wlan-modem.
So I deinstalled F-Secure and installed the trial version of ZoneAlarm Internet security and voilà, all is well again.
Don't ask me why, but now I get instant access to all sites where I had repeatedly time-outs since many weeks.

I had ZA in use prior to 2005, why on earth did I change to F-Secure?

Cheers
Heinrich


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