With the advent of "always-on" high-speed Internet connections in small businesses, computers are under constant threat of attack. To protect your systems from viruses, spyware and other threats that can take up residence in your PC without your knowledge, you'll need a good firewall.
A firewall helps you protect your private business information. Some top ways it can help your business:
- You can choose the information you want a firewall to protect, such as credit card numbers, passwords or banking information.
- A firewall can prevent outside computers from accessing sensitive information, such as your address, while you and your employees are online.
- A firewall can let you block "cookies" on a site by site basis. Cookies are small text files stored on your computer that help other sites remember when you revisit.
- Firewalls let you know if anyone has tried to tap your systems.
- A two-way firewall can help control outgoing information as well as incoming.
Choose a dedicated firewall applicationMake sure that the version you want runs on your PC, and look for an application that monitors both inbound and outbound traffic.
Choose a free firewall applicationWindows XP with Service Pack 2 comes with a basic built-in firewall, as does Mac OS X, but other free options are available.
Choose a firewall serviceIf you have a larger business with many PCs, you may want to choose a robust solution.
Get the right hardwareIf you have an office network, consider a hardware-based firewall, which is typically found in broadband routers.
- Never use two software firewalls at the same time; turn off the basic firewall that is built into Windows XP if you plan to install another firewall application.
- A firewall is only one part of the security you need on your PC — consider an all-in-one solution that includes antivirus, anti-spyware and anti-spam capabilities.