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OIT: Office of Information Technology

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Windows Firewall Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a Firewall, How does it work, What does the Windows Firewall do, What does the Windows Firewall not do?  

      

  2. What are the risk of allowing exceptions?

  3. What Firewall exceptions are configured by OIT?

  4. How can I see what exceptions are set up on my machine?

  5. How can I see more detailed information on my firewall configuration?

  6. I see that "File and Printer Sharing" in the list of standard exceptions. Does this mean other people can get to the files on my computer?

  7. How do I know if there is a "share" set up on my machine?

Question: What is a Firewall, How does it work, What does the Windows Firewall do, What does the Windows Firewall not do?  

For the best answer to that search for the "Windows Firewall overview" in the Windows XP "Help and Support". Additional information, can be found on Microsoft's website by doing a search for "Windows Firewall".

Question: What are the risk of allowing exceptions?

Each time that you allow an exception for a program to communicate through Windows Firewall, your computer is made more vulnerable. To allow an exception is like poking a hole through the firewall. If there are too many holes, there is not much wall left in your firewall. Unknown intruders often use software that scans the Internet looking for computers with unprotected connections. If you have many exceptions and open ports, your computer can become a victim of these intruders.

To help decrease your security risk:
  Only allow an exception when you really need it.
  Never allow an exception for a program that you don't recognize.
  Remove an exception when you no longer need it.

Question: What Firewall exceptions are configured by OIT?

See: OIT Standard Setting for Windows XP Firewall

Question: How can I see what exceptions are set up on my machine?

Click "start", click "control panel", if in "Catagory View" click "Security Center", then click "Windows Firewall". Once the "Windows Firewall" windows appears select the "Exceptions" tab.

Question: How can I see more detailed information on my firewall configuration?

To see detailed information about your firewall configuration at a command prompt type:
netsh firewall show state verbose = enable

Question: I see that "File and Printer Sharing" in the list of standard exceptions. Does this mean other people can get to the files on my computer?

Making an exception in a firewall is only half of the configuration that is needed to allow other people to get to files on a computer. In order for other people to get the files a shared drive, or "share" for short, must be explicitly set up on the computer.

Question: How do I know if there is a "share" set up on my machine?

Open the "Computer Management" MCC console. In the console tree expand to "Computer Management (Local)" > "System Tools" > "Shared Folders" > "Shares". In the details pane there should be the ADMIN$, C$, and IPC$ shares. These are normal administrative shares and are set up by Windows. If there are additional shares then more than likely they have been set up by a user of the machine. You can also obtain the same list by using "net share" at the command prompt.