Almost every single home in America now has a personal computer, and almost every single one of these computers is hooked up to the Internet. The Internet is a valuable new way of communicating, gathering information, and purchasing, but it has also given rise to a whole new breed of criminals and miscreants who love to prey on the uninformed or the unsuspecting in order to make a profit or just to have what they think is a little bit of fun. It is vital that you protect your computer and your information from being accessed by these people, who are becoming ever more innovative when it comes to achieving their perfidious goals. A key instrument in the fight for your computer’s security is a firewall.

A firewall is a piece of software or hardware that functions in a networked environment to prevent communication between areas with different degrees of trust. The term comes from the same word as that applied to a construction that is used in construction to keep a fire from spreading if one should start.

The most common type of firewall is the personal firewall, and this type in fact will come with most Windows software from the XP version forward. Although the model was not at first used very much, the emergence of the Blaster worm and the Sasser worm forced Microsoft to begin developing a more comprehensive software application that offered users better protection for both their home and office networks.

The next generation of Microsoft Firewalls takes the security of the personal and business computer one step further, by offering advanced protection against the phone home capabilities of both viruses and software. These firewalls will allow you to detect any activity that goes out from your computer so that you know who is receiving information about what you are doing and your transactions online.

The fact is, every personal computer needs a firewall, just as any business system does. But you probably do not have to worry about going out and buying one on its own- your operating system likely has included one for you. Your job will be to find out how to set your operating parameters and tell your firewall what to allow and what to block on your computer. It is especially important that you seek help when attempting the manipulation of your firewalls functions whenever possible, as mishandling will render your firewall useless. Instead, do not adjust the levels until instructed by a tech help from the developing company. If you keep the documentation of the procedure, you will be able to prove that it was their lack of knowledge, and not your own, that led to any informational leaks which caused some kind of stress.