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Easy steps to set your Windows 10 Firewall up [tutorial]

The current threats brought about by the discovery of Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities lately has shaken the tech world. Such threats are just another reminder of how computers can be exploited. Although Windows computers are generally protected, there can be instances wherein it’s the user itself that becomes the weak link in the security chain. It’s not uncommon to hear virus or malware infection in a computer following the installation of a suspicious program. Microsoft has anticipated such a situation so your Windows machine have some form of protections to prevent or minimize problems arising from some of our idiot actions. One such protections is Windows Firewall. This post describes what a firewall is simplistic terms as well as ways on how to add a program to work through it. We also include the steps on how to block ports in Windows Firewall. We hope you’ll find this article helpful.

Before we proceed to the main topic though, we would like to remind you that we accept requests for assistance regarding their Windows computers. If you have a problem that you can’t seem to find a solution to, send us your issue by following the link at the bottom of this page. Just remember, windows problems can sometimes be difficult to diagnose so kindly make sure that you give us very detailed description of the problem. You want to mention relevant history that may have led to the issue. The more information that you can provide, the higher the chance of us diagnosing the issue more efficiently. We also expect that you mention whatever troubleshooting step/s that you may have done before contacting us in order to prevent repeating them in our article. Again, the more details you can give us, the faster it is for us to pinpoint the cause and its corresponding solution.


What is a firewall?

A firewall is the first line of defense your computer needs to prevent unauthorized intrusion over the internet or over a network. In simple terms, firewall is there to keep unwanted people from accessing your computer or network. A firewall can take the form of software program, like your Windows 10 firewall, or a hardware device like a router.

Whether you have a software firewall or a hardware firewall, one basic characteristic is should have is its ability to identify and allow (or disallow) traffic in and out of your network. Depending on the type of firewall of have, you may be able to block or allow traffic via TCP/IP ports, or via IP addresses and domain names.

For the uninitiated and newcomers to computing, imagine firewall like its real-world counterpart (and from which the name itself came from). In the real world, a firewall is basically an oversized wall that’s designed to hinder flames from crossing over.  A firewall is there to stop the flames and protect whatever is behind it.

In computing, a firewall is there to protect data in your computer. A Windows Firewall for instance tries to screen data packets that tries to come into (and goes out of) your computer. These data packets may come from sites you visit, emails, etc. If your computer’s firewall determines that the data is safe, it’s let it come in. Known malicious data packets are denied access accordingly. In essence, a firewall is there to keep your computer safe.

Windows Firewall settings

The built-in firewall in your Windows 10 PC offers a number of options that you can configure. The easiest way to configure your firewall is by identifying the app/s that you want to have access to your computer and block those you don’t. Be default, Windows determine apps that should have access to your system. Some of these apps may be critical to the operating system while others may be there to help enhance your Windows 10 experience. Other apps like Weather or Remote Desktop are optional ones that may or may not have use for you. If you want to know what apps you can disable from your Windows Firewall, we recommend that you do some research about them first to prevent causing “unexplained” problems later on.

Just as some apps are permitted to access your computer or network by default, others may not be. If you’re trying to install an app and a prompt from Windows asks you if it should be allowed in the firewall, then that’s probably because Microsoft deems it to be a potentially risky application. This does not necessarily mean though that the app is actually malicious or bad. It’s just a reminder from Windows that the app you’re trying to install requires permission to be installed and for its data packets to be sent and received.

One other option under Windows Firewall settings is switch to turn the firewall on or off. If you’re asking why turn off a firewall when it’s your first line of defense against unauthorized intrusion, the answer is to provide exceptions. Although it’s a basic rule to always turn the firewall on, there may be situations where you want to turn it off. For example, when installing a third party security suite, a third party firewall may be included. If you’ll decide to use this third party firewall in place of your Windows Firewall, then you have to make sure that the latter is turned off to avoid conflicts. There should only be one firewall running at one time.

In case you want to use Windows Firewall, here’s how to access its settings:

  1. Right click on the Start button.
  2. Select Control Panel.
  3. In the View by section, select Small icons.
  4. Click on Windows Firewall.

In the main Windows Firewall menu screen, there are several links that you can click. Below are brief description of each of them.

Allow an app or feature through Windows Firewall. This first option is gives you the list of apps, both default and third party, running in your computer. This where you’ll be able to add, change, or remove apps and ports. If you want to change something in this section, click on the Change settings button.

Change notification settings. Under this section, you’ll be able to change the settings of a particular network type (Private or Public) you’re using.

Turn Windows Firewall on or off. Under this section, you’ll be able to change the settings of a particular network type (Private or Public) you’re using.

Restore defaults. Clicking on the Restore defaults button will reset your Windows Firewall settings back to their defaults. This means that all customizations you may have made will be erased causing some apps to not work as expected.

Advanced settings. This is where you can do more in-depth customizations for your firewall like create Inbound Rules, Outbound Rules, open ports or disable them, among others.

Troubleshoot my network. Troubleshoot my network is your friend when it comes to connection troubleshooting. Click it when you have connection or firewall issues.

Malware may turn off firewall

Some malware may target your computer’s firewall first in order to allow hackers to do more nefarious things like install more apps without your consent or access your data without your knowledge. Make sure to regularly check if your firewall is turned as expected by clicking on Turn Windows Firewall on or off link. If your firewall is turned off without your knowledge, it may be an indicator that your computer may be hacked or may be infected by a malicious software. If you noticed other abnormal behaviors in your PC together with the unexplained turning off of your firewall, make sure to do a complete system scan of your PC. better still, let a professional check for possible virus or malware infection.

How to allow an app to communicate through Windows Firewall

If you have an app in mind that you want to allow through your Windows Firewall, then doing so is not as complicated as it sounds. Basically, you just want to access the main Windows Firewall screen and decide whether or not to allow it to work in either private network, public network, or both. Selecting private network only will let the app or feature to work when you’re in your home or office network. Selecting public network allows an app or feature to only work when you are in a public network like one in your school library, cafe, or hotel.

To to allow an app to communicate through Windows Firewall, follow these steps:

  1. Right click on the Start button.
  2. Select Control Panel.
  3. In the View by section, select Small icons.
  4. Click on Windows Firewall.
  5. Click Allow an App or Feature Through Windows Firewall.
  6. Click Change Settings and type an administrator password if prompted.
  7. Locate the app to allow. It won’t have a check mark beside it.
  8. Select the box(es) to let that app or feature use a certain network type.
  9. Click OK.

If the app or feature is not yet in the list, you can manually add it by doing the steps below:

  1. Right click on the Start button.
  2. Select Control Panel.
  3. In the View by section, select Small icons.
  4. Click on Windows Firewall.
  5. Click Allow an App or Feature Through Windows Firewall.
  6. Click Change Settings and type an administrator password if prompted.
  7. Click on Allow another app button.
  8. Select the app, then click on Add. Alternatively, you can also click on Browse to find the app in your folders.
  9. Select the box(es) to let that app or feature use a certain network type.
  10. Click OK.

Risks in allowing apps through a firewall

There are two ways in allowing an app in a firewall. One if by doing the steps above and the other is by opening a port.

Whether you’re unblocking an app or adding an application to list of allowed apps or opening a port for a particular app or feature, you’re basically creating a hole in your firewall making your computer security weaker in the process. This can create opportunities for hackers or malware to exploit the weakness and access your files or include your machine in network of computers that spread malware.

We recommend that you avoid opening ports as much as possible. If you badly need an app or feature to work through your firewall, we suggest that you add it to the list of allowed apps instead. If there’s an an app that you don’t recognize trying to ask permission to work through your firewall, be on the safe side by denying it. It may be a malware trying to access its remote server to pass along information it collected.

To reduce security risks at all times, be sure to review your allowed apps lies or remove apps from said list if you don’t recognize it.

If you want to remove an app from your firewall allowed list, follow these steps:

  1. Right click on the Start button.
  2. Select Control Panel.
  3. In the View by section, select Small icons.
  4. Click on Windows Firewall.
  5. Click Allow an App or Feature Through Windows Firewall.
  6. Click Change Settings and type an administrator password if prompted.
  7. Click on the the app you want removed, then select the box(es) to remove the app from allowed list.
  8. Click OK.

How to close a port in Windows 10 Firewall

As an added reference, these are the steps on how to close a port in Windows Firewall:

  1. Right click on the Start button.
  2. Select Control Panel.
  3. In the View by section, select Small icons.
  4. Click on Windows Firewall.
  5. Click on Advanced settings.
  6. Enter the administrator password if prompted.
  7. In the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security dialogue box, tap or click Inbound Rules.
  8. Select the rule that you want to disable, then, in the right pane, tap or click Disable Rule.

Try using other third party firewalls

While we find the built-in WIndows Firewall satisfactory for years now, it’s not everything. We are not that adventurous when it comes to computing and we are always mindful of the risks when it comes to installing apps in our machines so the basic security that Windows firewall offers as well as our own wireless router is more than enough. We recommend that you try to use other security software and firewall that you may come across to see if they can offer better protection. Most good security packages incorporates firewall so if you already have one installed, start with that one.

Remember, when it comes to minimizing networking threats, Microsoft’s Windows Firewall is good enough so there’s really no need to buy another one. If money is not an issue, then go ahead and try as many as possible.

 


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