If My Anti-virus is Working Properly, Do I Still Need a Firewall?

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I’m second year computer science student in college. Some of my peers and other IT professionals keep telling me that in order to work well on your computer without anything coming into your way (like having some important pop-ups denied or having some authenticate downloads denied) you need to turn off the firewall. They say as long as you have an up-to-date anti-virus software you’re safe. How true is this and can I really be safe with my firewall off? Again, considering that I have a perfectly working anti-virus software.

Basically, I disagree with what people have been telling you. I actually disagree fairly strongly.

Yes, you need a firewall. And no, a firewall isn’t going to prevent some kind of pop-up or authentic download that you initiate.

Read moreIf My Anti-virus is Working Properly, Do I Still Need a Firewall?

What’s an open port?

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Leo, a PC security measure that I’ve come across recently is one where we should scan our router for open ports. What’s an open port and how are they created? How do we scan our routers for these open ports and how do we close them when we find them? I have a combination modem/router and I’m running Windows XP, SP3.

Open ports, particularly on routers, aren’t really something that I worry about. To be blunt, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to track them down and close them.

That being said, the concept is kind of interesting and opens up a bit of a window into just how the internet works.

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Why am I getting limited connectivity at my local open wifi hotspot?

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Leo, sometimes when I attempt to connect to my local coffeehouse’s Wi-Fi, I can connect to a strong signal that has limited or no connectivity but others in the house are connected with no problem at the same time. The shop owner’s not willing to reset the router because it might take down his credit card machine or other patrons – all perfectly logical. Anyway, is there a setting in my laptop that might improve this situation? Rebooting does not help. Disabling wireless and restart does not help. I’m using Windows XP Pro, Service Pack 3 with all updates.

Wireless N internal, and external N via USB. Both have failed (I’m not trying to connect them at the same time.) As did wireless G on another of my laptops also fail even though several other patrons are connected okay under the same wireless. I seem to be the only one having this problem but the problem is intermittent. Sometimes I can connect okay. Why would some be able to connect while others not, all at the same time?

Unfortunately, there’s not a setting on your computer that’s in your control, that I’m aware of, that would fix this problem. I do have some ideas, but the bottom line is that you really have to try and try again until it works, since you are able to reach full connectivity some of the time.

I just don’t really have any magical answers that are just going to make this problem go away for you.

Read moreWhy am I getting limited connectivity at my local open wifi hotspot?