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Personalizing Windows 8 : Protecting Yourself with Windows Firewall - Introducing Action Center

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1/16/2015 8:56:53 PM

Before you explore Windows Firewall, take a look at the Action Center. This is a single point of notification for most of your PC’s security. You can open the Action Center in several ways. Use whichever is most convenient for you:

  • From the Windows Start screen, show the Charms Bar and click Search. Click Control Panel, click System And Security, and then click Action Center.
  • On the desktop, right-click the flag icon in the Notification area and choose Open Action Center.
  • On the desktop, press Windows+X, choose Control Panel, click System And Security, and then click Action Center.

Whichever method you use, the Action Center opens. Figure 1 shows an example. We clicked the arrow button to the right of each heading so that you can see the descriptive text under each heading. You can click that button to show or hide the same descriptive text.

FIGURE 1 Action Center

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How you know Windows Firewall is On

By default, Windows Firewall is turned on and working at all times, so your Action Center should show “On” beside the Firewall item, as in Figure 9.2 (and you will see only the Network Firewall item in Action Center if you click the arrow beside the Security heading). If your version of Figure 9.2 shows Off or Not Monitored, you may have a third-party firewall program running in place of Windows Firewall. Many such programs are available, such as McAfee, Symantec, and Check Point. If your firewall is turned off and you don’t know why, it would be good to find out the reason — perhaps from your computer manufacturer or a support person who worked on your computer. If you don’t have any firewall up, you should definitely turn on Windows Firewall.


Note
There is no advantage to having two or more firewalls running simultaneously. In fact, more than one firewall is likely to cause unnecessary problems.

Turning Windows Firewall on or off

To turn Windows Firewall on or off, you must have administrative privileges. In the System And Security Control Panel window, click Windows Firewall. You should see the current firewall status in the right pane, and options for controlling the firewall in the left pane. Click Change Notification Settings or Turn Windows Firewall On or Off in the left pane to see the options shown in the foreground of Figure 2.

FIGURE 2 Settings for Windows Firewall

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Tip
Use the Block All Incoming Connections check box only to temporarily disable exceptions when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. You can find more on that topic in the sections that follow.

If you have a third-party firewall that you feel is more secure than the Windows Firewall, you can choose the Off option to turn off Windows Firewall. Just make sure you have a firewall up when you go online. Otherwise, you won’t have anything to stop uninvited traffic on your network connection after the traffic gets by your Internet Service Provider.


Tip
If you have a firewall at home, such as a wireless access point (WAP) or a cable or DSL modem that provides firewall features, and those features are turned on, you can safely turn off Windows Firewall. However, there usually is no downside to leaving Windows Firewall turned on even when an upstream firewall is in place. The exception is when you are trying to play multiplayer games or accomplish networking with other computers on the network and can’t get the ports right in Windows Firewall to make it work. In these situations, just turn off Windows Firewall on the computers.
 
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