Firewall protection 

Having some kind of Firewall protection has become very important in today�s internet world. Every day, new exploits are discovered in all operating systems that open your computer up to hackers. Even though you may not have anything worth sealing on your computer, your system and internet connection can be turned into a slave or bot. Once a slave or bot, your computer can be instructed to send spam emails, attack other computers, run a port scan  or join 100�s of other bots in mass denial of service attacks at the instruction of the hacker.
A personal firewall, especially a hardware nat firewall, provides a barrier against most of these types of attacks. Software should also provide a adequate barrier but can be turned off or could even contain an exploit yet to be discovered. Although I like hardware router firewalls, software firewalls are easy to setup and install and provide more than enough protection for most people.  Windows XP even has a Windows XP Firewall built in now.  As long as your desktop is behind a firewall  most direct attacks should fail. 
Firewall protection is broken down into two categories, incoming and outgoing. Incoming simply does not let a hacker actually reach the services and exploits they are looking for. Advanced systems may even prevent denial of service attacks, provide attack logging or other services. Outgoing services actually monitor what programs are making outgoing connections to the internet. You may know about your web browser and email program but you may be unaware of other software that uses the internet � sometimes for bad reasons. Some software, called adware, will monitor your browsing habits, report them to a central location on the internet and then display popup ads. These actions can partially be defeated by an outgoing firewall like ZoneAlarm.


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