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Re: [NTO] XP FIREWALL

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  • hsavage
    ... Mordechai, Almost any of the reviews and/or opinions of the EXPERTS that test software and write the articles about firewall programs seem to be united
    Message 1 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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      At , you wrote:
      > Hello,
      > Recently installed Windows xp pro + sp2 (previously I had with sp1),
      > noticedit has that security center and a firewall. Previously I had a
      > separate firewall installed.
      >
      > I would like to ask if the Windows firewall is good enough or should I
      > install again some other firewall program - and disable the original?
      >
      > Will appreciate your opinions.
      > Many Thanks
      > Mordechai
      > m.mordechai@...

      Mordechai,

      Almost any of the reviews and/or opinions of the "EXPERTS" that test
      software and write the articles about firewall programs seem to be
      united against the use of "Windows Firewall".

      From the never-ending number of reports of security holes in the
      Windows OS I tend to believe the "EXPERTS".

      ·············································
      ºvº SL-01-73 -created- 2008.01.10 - 00.30.12

      Measure of SUCCESS:
      At age 50 is.....
      "Having money."
      ¤ ø ¤ hrs ø hsavage@...
    • Brian Binder
      I will comment on this particular comment, just for the benefit of the group. Keep in mind, that most firewall programs have vulnerabilities, whether they are
      Message 2 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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        I will comment on this particular comment, just for the benefit of the
        group.

        Keep in mind, that most firewall programs have vulnerabilities, whether
        they are based on the security of the OS or a problem with their code in
        specific. Even Zone Alarm falls prey to both, so if you aren't in a
        habit of keeping Windows XP up to date on patches, your firewall will
        fall prey to attacks from OS vulnerabilities over and over anyway...so
        by using another firewall you aren't ensuring better protection if you
        happen to be lax with updates - and I've seen that plenty.

        What most experts agree on is that they wish Windows XP's firewall took
        care of outbound connections, and it really doesn't. It attempts to
        prevent you against being attacked by other machines on the Internet or
        network, etc.

        There is something that is also very important to mention when it comes
        to every single firewall out there: "most people mis-use them", and
        that's me, quoting myself.

        I've gone to countless service calls, businesses, end users, etc. where
        people have their machines so botched up because of things that they
        have denied through their firewall. Rules for stopping parts of the
        TCP/IP stack, rundll32.exe when it needs legitimate access, print
        spoolers for network printer access, etc.

        They deny so much "stuff" (because its use is unknown to them) that they
        end up crippling the performance and functionality of their PC's.
        Therein lies the reason (in many people's opinions, including my own)
        that Microsoft continues to deny making a firewall that analyzes
        outbound traffic. If you are unsure of the connection, most people
        "play it safe" and block it.

        Take this for what it's worth, but it's worth keeping in mind when
        making a decision on what to do for your firewall situation.

        hsavage wrote:

        > Almost any of the reviews and/or opinions of the "EXPERTS" that test
        > software and write the articles about firewall programs seem to be
        > united against the use of "Windows Firewall".
        >
        > >From the never-ending number of reports of security holes in the
        > Windows OS I tend to believe the "EXPERTS".
      • Scott Fordin
        FWIW, I ve had good luck with both Panda Internet Security 2008 and Norton Internet Security 2008. Installing either of them will automatically give you the
        Message 3 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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          FWIW, I've had good luck with both Panda Internet Security 2008
          and Norton Internet Security 2008. Installing either of them will
          automatically give you the option to disable the Windows XP
          firewall (do it) so there aren't two potentially conflicting
          firewalls at work. I used to use ZoneAlarm, but became less than
          thrilled with later versions, starting about two years ago.

          Scott

          Brian Binder wrote:
          >
          >
          > I will comment on this particular comment, just for the benefit of the
          > group.
          >
          > Keep in mind, that most firewall programs have vulnerabilities, whether
          > they are based on the security of the OS or a problem with their code in
          > specific. Even Zone Alarm falls prey to both, so if you aren't in a
          > habit of keeping Windows XP up to date on patches, your firewall will
          > fall prey to attacks from OS vulnerabilities over and over anyway...so
          > by using another firewall you aren't ensuring better protection if you
          > happen to be lax with updates - and I've seen that plenty.
          >
          > What most experts agree on is that they wish Windows XP's firewall took
          > care of outbound connections, and it really doesn't. It attempts to
          > prevent you against being attacked by other machines on the Internet or
          > network, etc.
          >
          > There is something that is also very important to mention when it comes
          > to every single firewall out there: "most people mis-use them", and
          > that's me, quoting myself.
          >
          > I've gone to countless service calls, businesses, end users, etc. where
          > people have their machines so botched up because of things that they
          > have denied through their firewall. Rules for stopping parts of the
          > TCP/IP stack, rundll32.exe when it needs legitimate access, print
          > spoolers for network printer access, etc.
          >
          > They deny so much "stuff" (because its use is unknown to them) that they
          > end up crippling the performance and functionality of their PC's.
          > Therein lies the reason (in many people's opinions, including my own)
          > that Microsoft continues to deny making a firewall that analyzes
          > outbound traffic. If you are unsure of the connection, most people
          > "play it safe" and block it.
          >
          > Take this for what it's worth, but it's worth keeping in mind when
          > making a decision on what to do for your firewall situation.
          >
          > hsavage wrote:
          >
          >> Almost any of the reviews and/or opinions of the "EXPERTS" that test
          >> software and write the articles about firewall programs seem to be
          >> united against the use of "Windows Firewall".
          >>
          >> >From the never-ending number of reports of security holes in the
          >> Windows OS I tend to believe the "EXPERTS".
          >
          >
        • Alan C
          I use Linux with its own open source iptables firewall on the internet. I don t use my Win beyond my LAN. (that s, for 4 to 5 years now or longer, my
          Message 4 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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            I use Linux with its own open source iptables firewall on the internet. I
            don't use my Win beyond my LAN. (that's, for 4 to 5 years now or longer, my
            personal solution to the Win internet security issue).

            For emailing and web browsing my friends use the Linux of their dual boot
            machine -- and its other OS is Win XP for use but except for rarely if ever
            on the internet.

            For their Win XP laptops and the one mentioned XP desktop, my friends just
            some weeks ago installed Norton 2008 internet security suite and have had no
            problem with it whatsoever.

            For several or more years now, my friends have been using Norton -- in 2007
            the Norton they purchased came with virus protection and its own personal
            firewall which we used (turned off the XP built in firewall)

            In 2006 the Norton they purchased was for virus protection only though it
            also monitored and notified if and which firewall is on or off. I set up
            this Norton on his XP laptop and I installed Zone Alarm and turned off the
            builtin XP firewall. This setup lasted them without incident through 2006
            up to the begin of 2007.

            What originally prompted my friends to increase their security is his Win XP
            laptop got (very -- as in totally, no longer useable anymore) severely
            compromised when using just the builtin Win XP firewall. That was 2005 or
            2006 when they first then subsequently bought the Norton.

            Same laptop got very severely (wasted, again) compromised in 2007 (yes it
            had the mentioned Norton on it then). Though they wouldn't admit to it --
            they have a teenage son. I think the son and his teenage friends were
            turned loose on this laptop on the internet -- without any adult
            overseeing. I fixed it, saved their data, restored from a previous disk
            image file, copied back their data, updated the Norton.

            The only difference after that is "users of the laptop *must* get involved
            here" (I let 'em have it, bang). They were more cautious/careful -- got
            them through the remainder of 2007 without another incident. (just because
            it has Norton on it is not a panacea).

            Given if the users are educated enough and cautious enough, it is probable
            that the builtin XP firewall would or could suffice. But I think this a
            tall order due the huge amount and the height of sophistication of phishing
            and social engineering taking place all of the time these days. All it
            takes is one little slip up by the user -- which could get something
            illegitimate installed that would then begin making outbound requests from
            within -- the builtin XP firewall is now useless, totally worthless, at this
            point.

            Another point to mention is running with user versus administrator
            privileges.

            My friends are not at all much computer literate. I set up a user and asked
            them to try it to see if it would do everything they need. They (very busy
            people) just take the easiest path -- faster and easier to use the default
            administrator account rather than try something new.

            Due that lack of cooperation on their part and my time constraints, they
            still run all their XP machines with admin privileges. (I'm certain that
            this admin privilege contributed to their mentioned 2007 contamination).

            --
            Alan.


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Alan C
            On Jan 10, 2008 11:15 AM, Alan C wrote: Another point to mention is running with user versus administrator ... Theoretically, if a user
            Message 5 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
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              On Jan 10, 2008 11:15 AM, Alan C <acummingsus@...> wrote:

              Another point to mention is running with user versus administrator
              > privileges.


              Theoretically, if a user is not allowed to install software (not even to a
              user area of the disk) *and* if the user is not whatsoever allowed to change
              any web browser security related settings.

              Then, if the administrator (with a very secure admin password) had
              adequately and sufficiently and securely enough "set up the machine for this
              user" then the built in XP firewall should suffice alright (for this user)
              given this case scenario. *And* that the administrator rarely, if ever,
              logs on (does so only when needed for sys maintenance).

              Linux is natively already oriented towards just such a case scenario as what
              I just mentioned. Windows, on the other hand, for ages, ran contrary to my
              mentioned case scenario.

              Bill Gates for the longest time said "people want usability over security".

              Thus the (Win) default account being the administrator privileged account.

              AFAIK the native Linux firewall does just what (the same as) the built in
              Win XP firewall does.

              I think a person would need to purchase commercial software for their Linux
              so as to get the type of checking that (for instance) Zone Alarm does
              (monitoring of applications that might seek to do outbound request).

              Linux is natively locked down like my mentioned case scenario whereby
              "nothing illegitimate can get installed" and therefore there will be no
              illegitimate outbound requests which makes it so that there is no need to
              monitor apps that potentially can do outbound requests.

              Perhaps I've been partially in the wrong by not (not enough anyways)
              attempting to admin my friend's Win XP so as to make their Win comply with
              my mentioned case scenario or what I've termed as the "Linux is natively
              locked down." (takes too much time [need to learn etc.] is the excuse so
              far for not making their Win to be like my mentioned case scenario or Like
              Linux with respect to the security model).

              --
              Alan.


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Gerard Huijing
              ... This remark re WinXP native firewall and Linux firewalls may be a bit confusing, but maybe you mean something quite different than what the message appears
              Message 6 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
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                Alan C wrote:
                >
                > AFAIK the native Linux firewall does just what (the same as) the built in
                > Win XP firewall does.
                >


                This remark re WinXP native firewall and Linux firewalls may be a bit
                confusing, but maybe you mean something quite different than what the
                message appears to say.

                The firewalls in the Linux distributions I know of come with a set of
                preconfigured rules that regulate both incoming and outgoing traffic. In
                other words, they are two-way firewalls and Windows' own firewall, in XP
                at least, is not. This the reason why I have immediately switched it off
                and use a proper (software) firewall instead, in my case Agnitum Outpost.

                Cheers,
                Gerard
                --
                Gerard (E.G.P.) Huijing
                2312 ZD Leiden
                Netherlands
                inboxgen@...
              • Alan C
                ... ? ... What Linux distros are you refer to since I know some distro that do not even ship with a firewall (one must provide their own firewall). I use
                Message 7 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
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                  On Jan 13, 2008 6:52 AM, Gerard Huijing <inboxgen@...> wrote:

                  > Alan C wrote:
                  > >
                  > > AFAIK the native Linux firewall does just what (the same as) the built
                  > in
                  > > Win XP firewall does.
                  > >
                  >
                  >
                  > This remark re WinXP native firewall and Linux firewalls may be a bit
                  > confusing, but maybe you mean something quite different than what the
                  > message appears to say.
                  >
                  > The firewalls in the Linux distributions I know of come with a set of
                  > preconfigured rules that regulate both incoming and outgoing traffic. In
                  > other words, they are two-way firewalls and Windows' own firewall, in XP
                  > at least, is not. This the reason why I have immediately switched it off
                  > and use a proper


                  ?


                  > (software) firewall instead, in my case Agnitum Outpost.


                  What Linux distros are you refer to since I know some distro that do not
                  even ship with a firewall (one must provide their own firewall).

                  I use Slackware and Debian. And I maintain a CentOS 4.6 box for my friends.

                  Ok, I should have limited my comment in my former post, more specifically to
                  "Linux distros that I myself use" because what I said now absolutely
                  applies.

                  proper? I definitely agree with you on that one for Win XP but not for the
                  Linux distros that I use.

                  What's "proper" is what's needed according to the overall or bigger picture
                  context.

                  Perhaps you missed my point?

                  My point was: if it's not even possible for something illegitimate to get
                  installed -- then -- there will never ever be any illegitimate outbound
                  requests therefore a "proper" firewall in this case is one with
                  characteristics just like the native Win XP firewall since in this (Linux or
                  *maybe* a tightened Windows system) case there is no need, not ever, to
                  monitor for potential illegitimate as to the or any outbound requesting sort
                  of apps

                  IOW (due the overall or bigger picture construct, I used the Linux (*distros
                  that I use*) security model as an example) if there can't be, not even the
                  possibility of illegitimate outbound then there's no need to monitor (using
                  firewall) for something that cannot happen.

                  Greater separation of user versus root or administrator. Run all the time
                  as a "user".

                  User is not privileged enough to install software nor alter any www related
                  security things.

                  User can't do anything but use. For anything else, root or administrator
                  must be logged onto. (as in separate accounts to log onto, each of the
                  mentioned separate account with drastically different in the way of
                  privileges or the amount of power of what is allowed to do).

                  So, once again, what sort of firewall is needed is dependent upon how tight
                  or how loose you are, security wise, in the mentioned overall or bigger
                  picture. That was the point that I was attempting to make.

                  But my intention here is not to advocate that "thus and such requires the
                  use of (whatever)"

                  But, to me, (mainly, anyways, the intention or point that I attempt here to
                  get across) that the concept of computer security that there are many many
                  components or ingredients that can make for and which can also make for the
                  lack of computer security. (a software) Firewall is *only one* of such
                  components or ingredients.

                  Even the built in Win XP firewall "monitors" outbound -- it does so for the
                  purpose to only allow back in what had been initially requested from within
                  -- oh, well, too bad if it was an "illegitimate outbound request that was
                  initiated from within (no protection)"

                  So, such built in XP firewall monitors outbound and inbound.

                  So does your mentioned Agnitum.

                  The difference is that the Agnitum also monitors for the potential of
                  "illegitimate requests that are outbound requests that are initiated from
                  within".

                  --
                  Alan.


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Gerard Huijing
                  ... Fedora, and openSUSE. I have used several other distributions in the past (ZenWalk, Vector among others) I will stick to the first two: they have a
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
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                    Alan C wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    > What Linux distros are you refer to since I know some distro that do not
                    > even ship with a firewall (one must provide their own firewall).
                    >
                    > I use Slackware and Debian. And I maintain a CentOS 4.6 box for my friends.

                    Fedora, and openSUSE. I have used several other distributions in the
                    past (ZenWalk, Vector among others)
                    I will stick to the first two: they have a configuration file that
                    regulates inbound and outbound traffic. It is configured on the basis
                    of choices offered by the install program. ("Do you want this machine to
                    provide ftp services?" etc.).

                    If I tested my service ports after I had installed (which I alway did),
                    e.g. with Gibson Shields Up, the report would be with SUSE: all ports
                    stealthed (DROP) except 113 (IDENT) which was closed (REJECT). ICMP echo
                    requests from outside to the firewall were rejected. I could choose to
                    stealth 113, and change the other rule: DROP the pings). I always did
                    that too. Mine is a stand alone PC and I had no problems (although the
                    documentation says that changing these settings can have adverse effects).

                    When you install SUSE or Fedora that configuration file (essentially a
                    script for iptables) is also generated. On those grounds I would say
                    that a firewall is in place to start off with.

                    > proper? I definitely agree with you on that one for Win XP but not for the
                    > Linux distros that I use.

                    I used "proper" because I have read so many criticisms of the XP
                    firewall saying exactly that: "Yes, indeed XP has its own firewall but
                    it's not a *proper* one: it only monitors inbound".

                    >
                    > What's "proper" is what's needed according to the overall or bigger picture
                    > context.

                    I quite agree.

                    > Even the built in Win XP firewall "monitors" outbound -- it does so for the
                    > purpose to only allow back in what had been initially requested from within
                    > -- oh, well, too bad if it was an "illegitimate outbound request that was
                    > initiated from within (no protection)"

                    Precisely! It's the unnoticed illegitimate ones I am worried about.
                    Thank you for the more precise description of what is going on in XP
                    firewall BTW.

                    Your point was, very much in a nutshell: the situation WinXP plus native
                    FW is comparable to Linux 'sec' with some essential qualifications
                    regarding the whole implementation of the OS, which make Linux so much
                    safer to start with.

                    I quite agree, again. I know that the situation in ArchLinux or FreeBSD
                    is like the one you have in mind. You have to install and configure your
                    firewall yourself, from scratch.

                    I quite enjoy trying to figure out iptables rules myself (after all I
                    can only screw up my own PC), but I am also very happy that openSUSE and
                    Fedora give me some safe settings to start off with.


                    Cheers,
                    Gerard





                    --
                    Gerard (E.G.P.) Huijing
                    2312 ZD Leiden
                    Netherlands
                    inboxgen@...
                  • Alan C
                    ... Red Hat 8.0 was my first Linux. Then Red Hat 9.0. Then Fedora Core 1 and 2. Then I tried Slackware 9.0 or 10.0. I liked it. But then I hated it. But
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
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                      On Jan 13, 2008 2:29 PM, Gerard Huijing <inboxgen@...> wrote:

                      > Alan C wrote:
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > What Linux distros are you refer to since I know some distro that do not
                      > > even ship with a firewall (one must provide their own firewall).
                      > >
                      > > I use Slackware and Debian. And I maintain a CentOS 4.6 box for my
                      > friends.
                      >
                      > Fedora, and openSUSE. I have used several other distributions in the
                      > past (ZenWalk, Vector among others)
                      > I will stick to the first two: they have a configuration file that
                      > regulates inbound and outbound traffic. It is configured on the basis
                      > of choices offered by the install program. ("Do you want this machine to
                      > provide ftp services?" etc.).


                      Red Hat 8.0 was my first Linux. Then Red Hat 9.0. Then Fedora Core 1 and
                      2.

                      Then I tried Slackware 9.0 or 10.0. I liked it. But then I hated it. But
                      then I liked it.

                      It was all about how much Unix/Linux acclimated I was back then.

                      Near 2001 'till now be near 7 years since I first began my Linux foray.

                      Since Slackware 10.2, Slackware has been my first go to distro (it's
                      Slackware 12.0 now) (I no longer have the hate periods -- it's now all "I
                      like it").

                      It a very fun distro to customize to your own personal liking. (lots of
                      community support for this distro). Once got (grasp) Slackware, am now
                      acclimated to the Unix/Linux way.

                      Slackware ships without a firewall. I use:

                      http://www.slackware.com/~alien/efg/

                      (rather powerful, loads many security related kernel modules).

                      I also use:

                      http://firehol.sourceforge.net/

                      I once used a Debian package of that one on Debian.

                      Debian is just for practice -- to keep me on my toes. I boot it only about
                      20% of the time. Slack gets the other 80%.

                      My friend's CentOS gives me some akin the direction of Fedora/Red Hat.
                      After a while (no rush) I may put Debian or Slackware on my friend's box (so
                      I don't have to scratch my head about CentOS things when I work on it).

                      <snipped>

                      I quite enjoy trying to figure out iptables rules myself (after all I
                      > can only screw up my own PC), but I am also very happy that openSUSE and
                      > Fedora give me some safe settings to start off with.


                      I stay away from iptables rules (never end up with enough time to dedicate
                      to it so as to learn it). I'm thankful that many various configurator tools
                      for the task exist.

                      --
                      Alan.


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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