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Firewall questions

Old 09-06-02, 03:34 PM
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Firewall questions

1. I just joined the 21st Century and have signed up for DSL service. I'm going active sometime next week and realized I needed to look into this "firewall" thing more seriously. Should I have my firewall software up and running when I officially get the DSL line connected? Or do I have to wait for the DSL service to be active?

2. What is a "hardware" firewall, how is it different from a software firewall, does it have software as well, and how much does a good one cost?

3. Is the free version of Zonealarm good enough for a regular guy who basically only downloads lots of pRon and visits his favorite dvd website with his DSL connection? I was just kidding about the pRon. I buy mine on-line.
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Old 09-06-02, 04:40 PM
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1) You can have it up and running ahead of time - but it's not really doing anything if you don't have a net connection. To prevent problems in your DSL setup, I'd say get it hooked up first, make sure it's working, and then install/run the firewall software. That way, if your connection suddenly doesn't work, you know it's an issue with the firewall software, and you're not wondering if your DSL connection is bad.

2) A hardware firewall is basically a stand-alone appliance who's sole purpose in life is to be a firewall. Most of them these days are just specialized computers, running specialized OSes.

The difference - they can be better/offer more features than a s/w firewall (although that's not always true). Depending on how they're designed, they may be a *lot* faster at processing traffic, especially if you're talking dedicated, custom circuitry. They're designed to be stand-alone, & cover all the traffic for a lot of machines - if you install Zone Alarm on your PC, that covers you, but what about the other 3 machines in your house? Unless their connection runs through your machine, they're still not covered. And if their connection runs through your machine, what happens if you want to reboot, or turn off your computer?

3) Yep, you'll probably be fine with it. Just make sure you keep up-to-date with any updates to the software, in case they find a problem.

HTH - Dirk
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