Built In Windows Firewall Review
Windows has had a built in firewall since Windows Xp, it has been changed in Windows 7. It is a basic firewall which will stealth you but if you are looking for a high level of security it is better to install another firewall. If it has been properly configured then it can stop many of the sorts of malware that a paid for firewall does. It is turned on by default in Windows 7. Windows 7 Firewall is turned on by default as an added guard against malware for the novice and expert user. There is a windows firewall control panel. It can be found by going Start-> Control Panel-> System and Security. It is designed for a novice user. Microsoft says that this helps protect a computer by putting restrictions on other os resources if they do not act as they should. For example if a windows component tries to send messages over a particular ports suddenly starts sending messages over another port. It is included in all versions of Windows 7.
Windows 7 differs from Windows Xp and Windows Vista, in that it can create home groups. These add together other networked Windows 7 pc, who can be invited to join. All that is required is for them to use the password assigned. This then allows the computers to network together and share printers and specific folders e.g. music, videos and docs. It is also possible to share alternate media with other computers sharing this Home Group network, for example to stream video to your Xbox 360. This works in conjunction correctly sets up the firewall so that this is possible. The reason why this is a leap forward in security is that on previous versions of windows networking could be a hassle, and users were turning of firewalls and other security settings, and by attempting to gain networking between computers compromise the security of their pcs. It even has a Public Home Group which should be used when connecting to a public network for added security.
Windows 7 firewall has upped the complexity from Vista and Xp as in these versions it was a very simple case of an on off toggle. With the concept of Home or Work networks that Windows 7 has means that it is not required to fiddle with multiple settings when moving between different network environments. Its a breeze to heighten security when on a less secure network by just setting to Public mode.
It is important not to confuse the purpose of a firewall with UAC (Universal Access Control), UAC is specifically meant to stop programs from accessing parts of the operating system that they are not supposed to. While firewall is concerned with network traffic to and from your pc to the internet.
One option which is possible to have in Windows 7 firewall is to be notified when the firewall blocks a new application, as with other firewalls. Windows 7 Firewall does stealth all the ports.
If you decide to install another firewall or security suite which contains a firewall the Windows 7 firewall is then disabled, this is a change from previous versions of Windows where you had to manually go in and disable the innate firewall
The general usability of Windows 7 firewall has come in part on minor changes that have been made since Windows Vista Firewall was created. To give one example in Vista when a firewall rule was create, it was required to put in the port numbers and ip addresses one at a time, however with windows 7 it is possible to put in ranges, greatly improving the speed at with complex rules can be set up
It is also possible to make connection security rules which specify the protocols or ports which are subject to IPsec reqs, within the firewall control panel, negating the requirement of using the netsh command.
Connection security rules also can have dynamic encryption. This means if a server receives an authenticated unencrypted message from a client pc, the security association can be negotiated dynamically, allowing for more secure communications.