Subscriber Peter Page wrote about his adventures with the Windows 7 Release Candidate. Peter and I appear to have the some of the same philosophy on firewalls. We want our software firewall to control outbound communications — if we should have a malware problem, or a program that wants to call home, we want our firewall to stop it and get our permission. Peter tells us what he a software firewall alternative for the 64-bit versions of Windows 7:
I haave been a subscriber for while now and always find something of interest and.educational in your newsletter so thank you for it and old timer like me needs all the stimulus I can get. I have been retired for 10 years now and am slowly becoming addled but I am still trying to keep on top of things.
I currentlyam running a trial version of Windows 7 x64 and am quite impressed with it, the improvements over Vista are substanial and make this a very good OS indeed, I am getting it when it is released and have already pre-booked it and will be running it as a x64 bit version and from now on will use only x64 bit OSes because of the advantages 64 bit offers me particularly in the graphics/multi-media fields where my main interests lie..
One particular improvement that is worth mention is the firewall. I had tried the firewalls in XP and Vista and found them to be almost useless so I hadn’t bothered looking at the Windows 7 firewall assuming it would be much the same.
My security requirements are not sophisticated I have a router installed after the broadband modem/firewall which feeds my home network and helps prevent any inbound questionable traffic and of course I have AV (Eset) and malware protection(Malware Bytes) as well. Since I have a router/firewall in line a software firewall is just a belt and braces job, so my main requirement of a firewall is to be able to control outbound traffic, preferably as easily as possible. For this I have always used either Zone Alarm(free) or the PC Tools (free) firewalls for this task since they are so easy to use but, alas, neither is Windows 7 compatible.
After a great deal of internet research on suitable firewalls I found a few that would work but I also found a number of favourable comments about the firewall in Windows 7 and a front end for it called “Windows 7 Firewall Control” from : sphinx-soft, (see address in links below). So I thought that I would pass on my experience to you perhaps for other subscribers as well.
This is the description from the “sphinx-soft” site.
- Designed for Windows 7 & Vista
- Free versions available
- Decreases expenses of mobile/satellite connections
- Zone based network permissions management
- Integration with Window Explorer for direct access permission management
- Integration with Windows Security Center
- Instant notifications of blocked activity
- Special editions for portable devices (USB flash/HDD drives, iPod etc)
- Special editions for U3 smart devices
- Protection from incoming and outgoing threats
- External network connection (firewall/router) box support
- Automatic network connection box detection/management
- External/worldwide access to selected local application
- Port Forwarding management
- Automatic Port Forwarding-to-applications synchronization
- Simplicity of operation
- Per-application security settings
- Group zone and application network access permission management
- IPv6 support
I decided to look into the Windows 7 firewall a bit more deeply before trying any of the other firewalls, I was pleasantly surprised at what I found!
Unlike XP and Vista the Windows 7 Firewall now controls both inward and outgoing traffic without recourse to complicated rules and when fronted with the free “Windows 7 Firewall Control” from Spinx it is as easy to configure as any other firewall I have used with the ability to control every outgoing request, just as I required.
The default seems to be to block all outbound traffic and a pop-up appears just above the Task Bar when something requires access to the Internet, unfortunately this happens rather to quickly for my aged hands and brain. The alternative is to open the properties and approve/disapprove internet access from there. You can also pre-approve or block any file from the properties window which is quite useful.
All in all it does exactly what I require of a firewall, easily and without any fuss so I shall continue with it during my 30 day trial period and will probably use it when I get my copy of Windows 7.
Note: despite Vista in the address this goes directly to the Windows 7 page
NOTE: I have no connection with sphinx-soft other than being a software user.
Thanks, Peter. That’s a very informative writeup and helpful links, too. The Inform-IT writeup tells us of the massive changes to the Windows firewall. The Maximum PC Guides link shows us how to configure the Windows 7 firewall.