To protect your computer, you need a firewall. This is number One on the list of "Must do" to protect your computer.
It does not matter if you have a home network or not, nor does it matter if you connect via dial-up, cable, DSL or some other method.
You need a firewall regardless the operating system you use. Windows 95/98/ME, Windows XP, Windows Server 2000/2003, Linux as well as any of the other unnamed operating systems.
Any computer that connects to a network (the internet is just a big network) needs a firewall.
You should have the firewall properly configured BEFORE connecting the network/modem cable. It only takes seconds for something malicious such as W32.Blaster.Worm to find its way to your computer whether you are surfing or not.

bullet Windows XP Internet Connection Firewall
bulletThis one is better than free, it is included as part of Windows XP.  It works well doing what it is designed, stopping inbound traffic.  It gives no warnings or notices when something is stopped.  Another drawback is it does nothing to stop outbound traffic.
bullet ZoneAlarm
bulletThis one is reliable, popular and there is a free version.
bullet Norton Firewall
bulletThis one is another good one.  You need to pay for this one.  You can also get this with Norton Internet Security.
bullet EZ Armor Security Suite from Computer Associates
bulletFree for the first year
bulletIncludes antivirus
bullet Kerio Personal Firewall
bulletFree version available for home and personal use

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This site was last updated 09/17/07