"Firewall? I don’t need no stinkin’ Firewall!"
You only have to read a few of my Internet security articles or my home networking articles to know my thoughts on that. I believe you must be use a software firewall on your computer. Whether you are use dialup, cable or DSL, and no matter whether you have a router/firewall on your network or not.
A lot of people believe that they are safe since they use dialup. Once upon a time, the danger was to high-speed users only. However, now, everyone is at risk, whether they use dialup or high-speed. Try my recommendation (the Sunbelt Personal Firewall) or any of the other commercial two-way software firewalls, and you will be amazed at the number of probes across your dialup line. Like several others, the Sunbelt Personal Firewall has a license/version that offers fewer functions for free for personal use.
The big advantage of a software firewall is that it is actually running on your computer.
Any form of firewall that is not actually running on your computer has to make the simple assumption that anything coming from your computer is genuine and legitimate. Those firewalls can only block programs and people outside your network from getting into your network.
A software firewall, on the other hand, not only works to protect your computer from attacks originating outside your computer, it also worries about software on your computer that tries to get to the Internet.
This worry is a good thing. You might want to block the piece of software that is always trying to “call home,” whether to update itself or just to report that you are using it.
In order to block spyware, trojans or adware programs that try to talk to its home system, we have to run a software-based firewall on our own computer. Our Internet Service Providers can not do this for us.
Or, maybe you got hit with a trojan or adware package — that wants to turn your home computer into a porn web server or make it spew spam!
The only thing that can control intividual programs running on your computer is a firewall running on your computer!
By the way, I specifically recommend that you use something other than the built-in Windows XP Firewall. The Windows Firewall is not bad with regard to “incoming” attacks, but it completely ignores connections originating from your computer.
Microsoft almost got it right with Service Pack 2 – they made the firewall operational by default then, but they still didn’t make it monitor and control outbound network/Internet connections.
There are a number of good firewall programs available. My personal recommendation is the Sunbelt Personal Firewall. The price is fantastic, only $19.95 for one computer for one year, instead of the $40 of most individual firewall programs. Sunbelt has good discounts for multiple years, and even an unlimited home site license at a great price (my choice).
With the Sunbelt Personal Firewall, you get a full-function 30-day free trial. Then, if you don’t purchase a license, it downgrades automatically to a reduced-function version (it loses some capabilities of the purchased version) that is free for personal home use.
Even better, I use and recommend Sunbelt’s VIPRE Antivirus Premium, which includes its firewall, too. Sunbelt Antivirus Premium works with 32-bit and 64-bit version so Windows XP, WIndows 2000 SP3, Windows 2003 Server, Windows Vista,and Windows 7. Try the free 30-day full-function trial.