REVIEW - Absolute Beginner's Guide to Personal Firewalls


Absolute Beginner's Guide to Personal Firewalls


Jerry Lee Ford



Que Pub (2001)




Francis Glassborow


June 2002



It is very easy to assume that just because someone is a wizard at programming that they will also know about all the rest of IT. Of course many of us know just how far that is from reality. For a couple of years now I have channelled all my Internet access through a Linux box that sits in a dark corner of my office doing nothing else but sit between my LAN and the outside world. It has a firewall on it that is regularly updated by my son. I take certain other simple precautions such as running a virus checker on all my machines with regular updates of virus data. I never open attachments unless I both know from whom they have come and have verified that they were indeed sent by that person rather than just that person's machine. I get a certain amount of spam and a couple of times a week my virus checker spots a virus in my incoming email. Oddly, my wife who uses a hotmail account hardly knows what spam is like.

Now many people do not have the luxury of being able to run a spare machine simply as a barrier between them and the rest. In addition broadband connections are becoming increasingly common. If you are one of these people (or even if you just use a dial-up for more than a few minutes at a time) you need to consider what protection to take. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a child who genuinely understands what to do it is in your interest to broaden your education.

This book starts with three chapters explaining the problems and why they are getting worse. It gives you a simple overview of the firewall concept. Then we move on to the second part that starts by looking at security on Windows systems before going on to a brief chapter of hardware firewalls. The next three chapters cover three common commercial products, McAfee Personal Firewall, BlackICE Defender and ZoneAlarm. The last three chapter cover various other aspects such as good habits while surfing, checking your computer security and the interaction between Home Networks and Internet connection sharing. There are a couple of appendices, the first listing several other firewall products and the second listing sites that will test your security.

I think that all users must consider the security of their computer systems. That means that you must either have a security consultant or take the time to learn enough to look after yourself. If you are in the latter group this book is a good starting point for the average home user.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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