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What is a Firewall & Why do you

need it?
According to a study by NCSA Cyber Security, only 4% of
Americans say they understand firewalls "completely",
while more than 44% don't understand firewalls at all - or
know if they have one enabled on their PC. So for those
of you who feel a little unsure - below is a brief overview
of why you might need a firewall.
If your PC is connected to the Internet, you are a potential
target to an array of cyber threats, such as hackers,
keyloggers, and Trojans that attack through unpatched
security holes. This means that if you, like most people
shop and bank online, are vulnerable to identity theft and
other malicious attacks.
A firewall works as a barrier, or a shield, between your PC
and cyber space. When you are connected to the
Internet, you are constantly sending and receiving
information in small units called packets. The firewall
filters these packets to see if they meet certain criteria
set by a series of rules, and thereafter blocks or allows
the data. This way, hackers cannot get inside and steal
information such as bank account numbers and
passwords from you.
Basic firewalls such as the one included in Windows XP,
only monitor incoming traffic by default. This may give
you a false sense of security. Keep in mind, outgoing
traffic, with your credit card information, bank accounts,
and social security number is not protected. A good
firewall will monitor traffic in both directions. That is, both
your incoming data and your outgoing data, keeping your
private information safe. In addition to preventing

unauthorized access to your PC, it also makes your PC


invisible when you're online, helping prevent attempted
intrusions in the first place.
Most sophisticated firewalls also include a feature that
continuously updates the list of known good and known
malicious applications. This way, the amount of questions
relating to Internet access is minimized and your
computer protection is always up-to-date.
Although a firewall provides critical protection to keep
your PC safe from unauthorized access, it cannot remove
malware from a system that has already been infected.
Therefore, a firewall should be used in conjunction with
other proactive measures, such as anti-malware software,
to strengthen your resistance to attacks.

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In computing, a firewall is a network security system that monitors


and controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on
predetermined security rules.[1] A firewall typically establishes a barrier
between a trusted, secure internal network and another outside
network, such as the Internet, that is assumed not to be secure or
trusted.[2] Firewalls are often categorized as eithernetwork
firewalls or host-based firewalls. Network firewalls are a software
appliance running on general purpose hardware or hardwarebased firewall computer appliances that filter traffic between two or
more networks. Host-based firewalls provide a layer of software on
one host that controls network traffic in and out of that single machine.
[3][4]
Firewall appliances may also offer other functionality to the internal
network they protect such as acting as a DHCP[5][6] or VPN[7][8][9][10] server
for that network.[11][12]

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A firewall is a network security system designed to prevent


unauthorized access to or from a private network. Firewalls can be implemented
in both hardware and software, or a combination of both.

How are Firewalls Used?


Network firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorizedInternet users from
accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially intranets. All
messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which
examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the
specified security criteria.

Hardware and Software Firewalls


Firewalls can be either hardware or software but the ideal firewall configuration
will consist of both. In addition to limiting access to your computer and network, a
firewall is also useful for allowing remote access to a private network through
secure authentication certificates and logins.

What is a firewall?
A firewall is a software program or piece of hardware that helps screen out hackers, viruses, and
worms that try to reach your computer over the Internet. If you cant start Windows Firewall or
you are getting an error, use our

free tool to diagnose and fix problems.

If you use a computer at home, the most effective and important


first step you can take to help protect your computer is to turn on
a firewall.
Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP SP2 or
higher have a firewall built-in and turned on by default.
(Note: Support for Windows XP ended in April 2014.)
If you have more than one computer connected in the home, or if
you have a small-office network, it is important to protect every
computer. You should have a hardware firewall (such as a router)
to protect your network, but you should also use a software
firewall on each computer to help prevent the spread of a virus in
your network if one of the computers becomes infected.
If your computer is part of a business, school, or other
organizational network, you should follow the policy established
by the network administrator.

What is a proxy server?


A proxy server, also known as a "proxy" or
"application-level gateway", is a computer that acts
as a gateway between a local network (e.g., all the
computers at one company or in one building) and a

larger-scale network such as the Internet. Proxy


servers provide increased performance and security.
In some cases, they monitor employees' use of
outside resources.
A proxy server works by intercepting connections
between sender and receiver. All incoming data
enters through one port and is forwarded to the rest
of the network via another port. By blocking direct
access between two networks, proxy servers make it
much more difficult for hackers to get internal
addresses and details of a private network.
Some proxy servers are a group of applications or
servers that block common Internet services. For
example, anHTTP proxy intercepts web access, and
an SMTP proxy intercepts email. A proxy server
uses a network addressing scheme to present one
organization-wide IP address to the Internet. The
server funnels all user requests to the Internet and
returns responses to the appropriate users. In
addition to restricting access from outside, this
mechanism can prevent inside users from reaching

specific Internet resources (e.g., certain websites). A


proxy server can also be one of the components of
a firewall.
Proxies may also cache web pages. Each time an
internal user requests a URL from outside, a
temporary copy is stored locally. The next time an
internal user requests the same URL, the proxy can
serve the local copy instead of retrieving the original
across the network, improving performance.
Note: Do not confuse a proxy server with
a NAT (Network Address Translation) device. A
proxy server connects to, responds to, and receives
traffic from the Internet, acting on behalf of the client
computer, while a NAT device transparently changes
the origination address of traffic coming through it
before passing it to the Internet.
For those who understand the OSI (Open System
Interconnection) model of networking, the technical
difference between a proxy and a NAT is that the
proxy server works on the transport layer (layer 4) or

higher of the OSI model, whereas a NAT works on


the network layer (layer 3).

proxy server
A proxy server is a server that sits between a client application, such as a Web browser, and a
real server. It intercepts all requests to the real server to see if it can fulfill the requests itself. If
not, it forwards the request to the real server.

Purpose of a Proxy Server


Proxy servers have two main purposes: to improve performance and to filter requests.
Improve Performance
Proxy servers can dramatically improve performance for groups of users. This is because it
saves the results of all requests for a certain amount of time. Consider the case where
both user X and user Y access the World Wide Web through a proxy server. First user X
requests a certain Web page, which we'll call Page 1. Sometime later, user Y requests the same
page. Instead of forwarding the request to the Web server where Page 1 resides, which can be
a time-consuming operation, the proxy server simply returns the Page 1 that it already fetched
for user X. Since the proxy server is often on the same network as the user, this is a much faster
operation. Real proxy servers support hundreds or thousands of users.

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Filter Requests
Proxy servers can also be used to filter requests. For example, a company might use a proxy
server to prevent its employees from accessing a specific set of Web sites.

How to Find an IP Address and Port Number


by B. Steele, Demand Media

Computers and applications connect to remote hosts using IP addresses and port
numbers. Every computer connected to a network has an IP address, and data is
transmitted from one computer to another through channels, or ports, which are
assigned certain numbers. A computers IP address is analogous to your main office
telephone number, while the port represents your extension. Some applications
require communication on specific ports, so you may need to verify that a certain
port is open on your computer. You can do this by first determining your IP address
and then running the "netstat" command-line utility to discover all open ports on
the computer.

Step 1
Log in to Windows using an administrator account.

Step 2
Click "Start" and type cmd (without quotes here and throughout this article) in the
search box. Press Enter.
Related Reading: How to Find Your External IP Address

Step 3
Type ipconfig and press Enter. Your IP address should be listed under Ethernet
adapter Local Area Connection if you have a cabled connection, or Wireless LAN
adapter Wireless Network Connection. Use the IPv4 address (unless you are on an
IPv6 network contact your IT department if you are unsure). Depending on your
hardware configuration, you may have more than one network adapter installed on
your computer.

Step 4
Type netstat -a and press Enter. A list of all your active TCP/IP connections will
populate. The port numbers appear after the IP address with a colon separating the
two. For example, if your IP address is 192.168.1.1 and you see an entry for
192.168.1.1:2869, it means port 2869 is open. If you see port numbers listed after
0.0.0.0, it means that all network adapters on your computer have the listed ports
open and in the state indicated in the State column on the right. Port numbers
listed after 127.0.0.1 are open on your computers loopback address only. The
loopback address is a virtual network interface mainly used for connectivity testing
purposes.

What is a Port?

To the uninitiated or the otherwise-gifted computer user, technical geek-speak can be rather
frustrating and aggravating. When instructions are filled with such things as "port," "TCP,"
"UDP," and other acronyms or technical terminology, the user feels more isolated and rarely
finds a solution or comprehension. Fortunately, comprehension is just moments away.

Port
Picture a bay where there are lots of private boats are docked. The overall location is called
a seaport, literally a port at or on the sea. Everyone wanting to dock thererequesting
landing servicesuses the same port. Seaports work with berth numbers assigned to
individual boats. The port name and the berth number combine into the "who, what, and
where" of boat identification.
In geek-speak, berth numbers on the Internet are Internet Protocol or IP addresses, a user's
numerical identifier on the Internet. Depending on connection type and service provider, a
user's IP address may or may not remain the same with each connection to or "docking" on
the Internet.
A computer port is a type of electronic, software- or programming-related docking point
through which information flows from a program on your computer or to your computer from
the Internet or another computer in a network. (A network, by the way, is a series of
computers that are physically or electronically linked.)
In computer terms, a computer or a program connects to somewhere or something else on
the Internet via a port. Port numbers and the user's IP address combine into the "who does
what" information kept by every Internet Service Provider.
Ports are numbered for consistency and programming. The most commonly used and best
known ports are those numbered 0 to 1023 dedicated for Internet use, but they can extend
far higher for specialized purposes. Each port set or range is assigned specialized jobs or
functions, and that's generally all they do. Usually, all identical system services or functions
use the same port numbers on the receiving servers.
For example, all computers accessing or requesting Quote of the Day will always use port
17, because that port is officially reserved for that purpose, and only requests for that
service use port 17. Outgoing information is channeled through a different or private port,
keeping the "incoming line" open for others. Email received on a local computer generally
uses a TCP port 25. File Transport Protocol or FTP uses port 21, to name only a few port
assignments.

TCP/UDP
TCP stands for Transmission Control Protocol, and UDP is the abbreviation for User
Datagram Protocol. Both pertain to data transmissions on the Internet, but they work very
differently.
TCP is considerably more reliable. It is connection-based transmission of data. There must
be anchored points between sending location to receiving location, and data A that is sent
first will always arrive at the destination prior to data B which was sent second. The only
transmission that fails is one that is broken (for instance, if the transmitting point's Internet
connection was lost or a receiver's website is down or an email address is no longer valid.
The email server is the receiving point that counts therenot the user name.)
UDP is connectionless protocol. Data is sent regardless of the receiving destination's status.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the data will ever be received, in what order, or in
what condition.
An example between the two might involve mailing two sets of two letters. Set A comprises
Letters 1 and 2. Set A is sent via the postal service called TCP that has a permanent, predefined route with no derivation. Letters 1 and 2 will arrive, and they'll arrive in order.
Meanwhile, Set B comprises Letters 3 and 4 which were sent on chronological days via the
postal service nicknamed UDP. Because they were sent with the routing and delivery
instructions, "Get there when you can by whatever route you might findmaybe. Just do
the best you can," Letter 4 arrives torn, water-stained, bent, folded, and generally well
mutilated; Letter 3 never shows up at all and is never returned to the sender.
Another difference between TCP and UDP surrounds data streaming. Data sets sent via
TCP are sent seamlessly; there is no separation between bits of data which allows for a
smoother viewing or listening experience.
UDP streaming data sets or packages are guaranteed to arrive, but they do so individually.
Slightly lagging or jerking pictures or sound may result as each separately arriving package
is received, read, and played. While seeming to contradict the above, the difference is in the
data "packaging" aspect. Bits of data, those individual letters, aren't guaranteed to arrive or
in what shape. The streaming data is packaged "in bulk," and boxes are sent, not
envelopes. The streaming data "boxes" are sent along more reliably, and if they're
requested, they'll be delivered. Consider the delivery of a higher priority, air travel versus
ground transportation or certified mail versus standard mail.

The previously uninitiated in geek-speak can comfortably brag that they no longer take any
port in a computer storm, metaphorically speaking, but they know whether to have a
program transmit or receive via a TCP or a UDP connection, which is progress, indeed.

Port Range Groups


0 to 1023 - Well known port numbers. Only special companies like Apple QuickTime, MSN,
SQL Services, Gopher Services and other prominent services have these port numbers.
1024 to 49151 - Registered ports; meaning they can be registered to specific protocols by
software corporations.
49152 to 65536 - Dynamic or private ports; meaning that they can be used by just about
anybody

Port Number
Definition - What does Port Number mean?
A port number is the logical address of each application or process that uses a network or the
Internet to communicate. A port number uniquely identifies a network-based application on a
computer. Each application/program is allocated a 16-bit integer port number. This number is
assigned automatically by the OS, manually by the user or is set as a default for some popular
applications.

Techopedia explains Port Number


A port number primarily aids in the transmission of data between a network and an application. Port
numbers work in collaboration with networking protocols to achieve this. For example, in an
incoming message/packet, the IP address is used to identify the destination computer/node,
whereas the port number further specifies the destination application/program in that computer.
Similarly, all outgoing network packets contain application port numbers in the packet header to
enable the receiver to distinguish the specific application.
Port numbers are mainly used in TCP and UDP based networks, with an available range of 65,535
for assigning port numbers. Although an application can change its port number, some commonly
used Internet/network services are allocated with global port numbers such as Port Number 80 for
HTTP, 23 for Telnet and 25 for SMTP.