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Re: [NTO] XP FIREWALL

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  • 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 1 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
      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 2 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
        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 3 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
          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 4 of 14 , Jan 10, 2008
            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 5 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
              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 6 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
                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 7 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
                  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 8 of 14 , Jan 13, 2008
                    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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