While keeping the firewall on is probably a good idea for the less tech-savvy, there may come a time where they have to turn it on and off. Here's a simple guide to help them do it on their own.A firewall is a layer of security that designates what traffic is and isn't allowed to enter your computer on a network. Generally, they let good traffic through, while keeping hackers, malware, and other unsavoury traffic out.
Most routers have firewalls built-in, so if you're using a router (which most people do), you already have a good amount of protection from outside shenanigans. You also have a firewall on your computer, usually built in to Windows or Mac OS X. This one isn't as important to keep on, and there are some situations where you might need to turn it off: perhaps you've installed antivirus software that has its own firewall, or maybe you're running a program that isn't working correctly because it's conflicting with the firewall. If, for any reason, you need to turn it off, it's rather simple to do.
- Click on the Start menu and type windows firewall. Pick the "Windows FIrewall" option that pops up in the search results. If you're on Windows XP, hit the Run option and type in
In the left sidebar, click "Turn Windows Firewall On or Off".
- Under "Home or Work Network Location Settings", click "Turn Off Windows Firewall". If you want to turn it back on, just click the "Turn on Windows Firewall" button above it.
- Unless you have another firewall as part of your anti-virus software, leave the Windows Firewall on for public networks. You'll need it as extra protection when you're on an insecure Wi-Fi network, like at a coffee shop, since you don't know who else is connected.
On a Mac:
- Open up System Preferences, which is the icon in your dock with the gears (usually near the far right). You can also find it by clicking on the Apple menu icon at top left and clicking on 'System Preferences'.
- Click on "Security", which is in the top line of icons.
- Go to the Firewall tab.
- Click the small padlock icon in the bottom left-hand corner. Enter your password when prompted.
Hit the Stop button to turn the firewall off. If you want to turn it back on later, you can come right back to the same place and hit the Start button.
- You'll want to make sure you come back and turn the firewall on whenever you're on a Wi-Fi network that isn't in your home. So, whenever you go to a coffee shop, the airport, the library, or anywhere else and connect to the internet, you'll want to make sure the firewall is on. Only turn it off when you're at home, on your password-protected Wi-Fi network.
It's as simple as that! Remember, you want to keep the firewall on whenever you leave the house, and unless it's causing you problems, you're probably better off keeping it on while at home too.