Windows 7 Security – Windows Firewall

December 13, 2010, By Christian Cawley

To protect your PC from online threats and intrusions as well as to help you configure secure playing of online games, Microsoft provides a new and improved Windows Firewall in Windows 7.

As one of three built in security tools (along with Windows Defender and BitLocker) Windows Firewall can be easily configured as per the user’s requirements. Along with the standard on and off controls you can open ports and allow specific access to various programs and services.

While it would be unwise to run a PC on an internet-facing network without an additional third party firewall or a hardware firewall, the Windows Firewall remains an important tool in maintaining the security of your Windows 7 PC or laptop.

Windows 7 Windows Firewall

Using Windows Firewall Basic Settings

In order to get to grips with Windows Firewall, you will first need to know about the basic settings. These can be found via Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Firewall. Two types of network will be listed:

  • Home or work (private) networks
  • Public networks

Each has a list of details available – for instance if you regularly use a Windows 7 laptop in a coffee shop or flight lounge, the Public networks section lists your current configuration. Meanwhile the Home or work (private) networks section details settings particular to those types of connection.

Via the option Turn Windows Firewall on or off you can enable and disable the firewall for each of these network types, as well as toggle where or not to be notified when Windows Firewall blocks a program and also Block all incoming connections, a particularly useful option.

Windows Firewall Advanced Settings in Windows 7

Beyond the basic settings listed above, the Windows 7 Windows Firewall features a set of advanced controls that allow you to monitor and configure the firewall. You can access this by following the path: Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Firewall > Advanced Settings.

The first view you should visit in the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security screen is Monitoring > Firewall where you can get a good look at all network-bound software and services and check their current status. Permitted items are marked with a green tick icon and in the Action column are listed as Allow, whereas blocked items are listed as Block with a red “no entry” icon. Clicking Properties in the right-hand column displays advanced information about the purpose of the software or service, ports that are in use and the program that has launched the connection.

Further information can be found by viewing the Inbound Rules and Outbound Rules.

Inbound & Outbound Rules

With these two views, the configuration of individual programs listed in the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security screen can be viewed and altered.

For instance if I select the listed application uTorrent I can use the Actions menu on the right to Enable and Disable the rule as well as use the Properties box to adjust the rule. With the General tab I can set the rule as Enabled as well as Allow or Block the connection, while on the Computers tab I can permit connections from specific devices and specify a scope for the rule on the Advanced and Scope tabs.

These options are available in Inbound Rules and Outbound Rules, and a New Rule… can be setup in each using a simple wizard.

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