Recently, my husband had trouble installing a wireless router and enlisted
the help of D-Link, the manufacturer. The staff instructed him to disable the
Microsoft firewall. Now the warning about the computer being at risk is
constantly showing. My husband told me not to worry because the router is
acting as the firewall now. Is he correct to assume that? If not, what should
Your husband is half right. The router is, in fact, acting as a firewall.
But, technically, only half a firewall.
But not to worry. I run with only half a firewall myself.
And I get no warnings.
Let’s look at how.
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A router acts as a firewall to the extent that it prevents certain types of
external access attempts from reaching your machines. Many consider that to be
“half” a firewall, because many software firewalls also block internal attempts
to access things on the internet. For example, with a router acting as your
firewall a virus on someone else’s machine out on the internet cannot access
your machines directly – but a virus on your machine could reach out
and contact machines out on the internet.
The trick, of course, to remaining safe in this situation is to be smart
about the other ways that you can get infected – don’t open attachments you
don’t trust, don’t visit websites you don’t trust, don’t allow untrusted
activex controls, and of course run regular anti-spyware and anti-virus scans
and so on.
It’s what I do. I don’t run a software firewall – I rely solely on my
router, and on my own “good behavior”.
situation is to be smart about the other ways that you can get
Now, about that annoying warning.
The Windows firewall is on by default. In fact, after Windows XP service
pack 2, the firewall became downright annoying in an attempt to encourage
people to do something to stay safe. If you do, or know, nothing else,
Windows wants you to turn on the firewall just to stop the annoying
The other approach is to tell Windows “I know what I’m doing.”
In Control Panel, double click on Security
Center. You should see a dialog box including something like this:
Click on the Recommendations… button for this dialog:
Don’t turn the firewall on, but instead check the box labeled “I
have a firewall solution I’ll monitor myself.“
Once you hit “OK” the Firewall status in the Security Center will change to
That’s the setting that, essentially, tells Windows “Stop bugging me, I know
what I’m doing.”