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Computer Tips and Tricks: Understanding and Testing Your Firewalls

Firewalls are a software or hardware product that can secure data coming into your computer. They act as guardian between a PC or local network and the rest of the network/Internet. When an unauthorized computer user attempts to scan and look for an open door to your system, the firewall sends a shield that reflects the scan, giving the indication that the attempted recipient computer is not even there. Windows XP does come with a basic and rigid firewall but it's better to have one than nothing at all.
If you haven't enabled your Windows XP firewall, just follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Double-click the Network Connections icon.
  3. Right-click an icon and select Properties.
  4. Click the Advanced tab.
  5. Place a check in the box next to Protect my computer and network by limiting or preventing access to this computer from the Internet.
  6. Click OK.

Now if you don't think you need a firewall, or you have installed one and want to see if it's working correctly, you can use free utilities online to check for Internet-based vulnerabilities in your computer. One of these utilities is called ShieldsUP! which is being offered by Gibson Research Corporation.
To test your computer with ShieldsUP!, visit www.grc.com and click the ShieldsUP! link. Look for the section "Hot Spots", and click the link for ShieldsUP! Just follow the onscreen instructions, and be sure to run the Test My Shields! and Probe My Ports! tests.

Keep on checking our blog for more computer tips and tricks. Also, register for computer classes at any Orange County library. Remember these classes are free for Orange County residents.
For more information, call us at 407.835.7323 or check it out www.ocls.info

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