I’m always surprised when I get asked “The Firewall” question – why do I need one? The answer is – a Firewall, either Hardware or Software, is designed to block unauthorized access to your computer from the Internet, at the same time permitting protected authorized communications – provided it includes outbound protection.
Most casual users that I come into contact with believe that Firewalls need to be expensive to ensure that they get the job none. But, that’s not always the case. PC Tools Firewall Plus 7, for example, is a very robust, uncomplicated, free Firewall, which is non- intrusive, and very appropriate for casual computer users – and gets the job done.
I’ve been running with PC Tools Firewall since I installed Win 7 and I have been impressed with its performance. It installed easily, set up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts with my machine despite my sometimes esoteric running requirements.
Here’s a recent example where my machine is being probed for vulnerabilities from an IP address in China.
The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for less experience users. Experienced users on the other hand can tinker to their hearts content, customizing and tweaking the application to meet their specific requirements.
The program settings screen is definitely new user friendly, as the following graphic illustrates.
What you need to know:
Protects your PC as you are working, surfing and playing.
Protects against Trojans, backdoors, keyloggers and other malware designed to damage your computer and potentially steal your confidential information.
Includes ThreatFire, a heuristic application for additional protection.
Intelligent, automatic protection without all the questions.
Easy to use – designed for both, novice and expert users.
Advanced rules to protect PCs against common attacks.
Inbound and outbound protection.
Simple, user friendly interface.
Free – no catches, limitations or time-limits.
What’s new since I last reviewed PC Tools Firewall Plus:
Extensive Security Permission (ESP). PC Tools Firewall Plus has extended its Self Protection to block malicious programs bypassing the firewall. Some malicious programs access the internet by disabling the firewall allowing your personal information to be sent to the internet undetected. PC Tools Firewall Plus intercepts termination requests restricting who can terminate the firewall and modify protected objects.
Improved Application rules interface displays an application’s details as well as extended/improved user control over input and output rule creation and modification. The new rules interface also allows creation and modification of new ESP rules. This allows the expert user complete control of the network access.
More informative pop ups PC Tools Firewall Plus is built using the new Windows Filtering Platform (WFP) architecture in Windows 7, Vista™ and Server 2008 to provide you with precise control over all network traffic, including IPv6, on both 32bit and 64bit systems.
Updated Profiles Interface for greater control over network access profiles. Configure trusted and untrusted network profiles to help ensure your network access to tailored to the security level of the network you’re connected to.
Network Display has been extended to include detailed available adaptor information including assigned profile, MAC Address and traffic statistics as well as detailed network information including the IP, Gateway IP and subnet mask.
Normal and Expert modes have been combined into one simple to use interface. The new interface has automatic rule and profile creation for the normal user as well as an interface allowing highly customisable configurations for expert users.
If you are a casual computer user, PC Tools Firewall is definitely worth considering as a new Firewall installation, or as a replacement for a current Firewall that is not meeting your expectations.
System Requirements: Windows 7 (32/64 bit), Vista (32/64 bit) and XP (32 bit).
Download at: PC Tools
Note: Test your existing Firewall at Steve Gibson’s site – ShieldsUP! If your current Firewall is not in stealth mode (this test will confirm it), and if it can’t be forced into stealth mode, then you should consider changing your Firewall application.
The following are the results, from Steve’s site, on the test I just completed:
Your system has achieved a perfect “TruStealth” rating. Not a single packet — solicited or otherwise — was received from your system as a result of our security probing tests.
Your system ignored and refused to reply to repeated Pings (ICMP Echo Requests). From the standpoint of the passing probes of any hacker, this machine does not exist on the Internet. Some questionable personal security systems expose their users by attempting to “counter-probe the prober”, thus revealing themselves. But your system wisely remained silent in every way. Very nice.
Note: If you are currently running Windows Firewall, then installation and setup is a breeze. On the other hand, if you are running another Firewall, it’s important that you uninstall this application (use the applications built-in uninstaller), before installing PC Tools Firewall. I mention this as a precaution only, since it’s as likely that you won’t encounter any difficulties. But……..
If your current Firewall does not include a built-in uninstaller, then use Revo Uninstaller which will delete the application including the applicable Registry entries.
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