Windows Firewall is restricting access to something I want … what do I do?
Windows Firewall has been in Windows XP since it was released. With Service
Pack 2, Microsoft has shined the spotlight on the firewall as a key component to
keeping your computer safe on the internet.
Being a good Windows Citizen, you duly enable the Windows Firewall. Then all
of a sudden applications you care about stop working.
Before you turn off the firewall, let’s look at how you can customize it;
possibly allowing your application to resume working while retaining the
security of the rest of the firewall.
In other words, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. At least
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Most of the recent focus around the Windows Firewall has had one simple, and
strong message: turn it on. And that’s great; too many
people are running unprotected or “naked” on the internet and exposing their
computers to all sorts of malicious threats. Once you’ve turned it on, though,
you can also configure it in several ways.
Windows XP Service Pack 2 makes finding the Windows Firewall configuration
much easier. It’s right there in your Control Panel labeled,
logically enough, Windows Firewall.
The General tab of the Windows Firewall probably looks very
familiar if you’ve installed Windows XP Service Pack 2. It’s very simple, and
simply pushes the message to turn it on:
The Exceptions tab is where things start to get more
The goal of the firewall is simple: prevent remote computers from
accessing yours. The exceptions tab allows you to specify programs and ports
for which the firewall will allow outside access. By default several
popular programs if found on your computer are enabled, including Instant
Messaging programs, Remote Desktop, and more. If you have a program that’s not
listed that you want to be able to respond to remote requests you can use the
Add Program button to allow it. You can also use the
Add Port button to allow a specific TCP/IP port to come
through regardless of what program might be used to respond to it.
So if your program suddenly stops working when you enable the firewall and
it expects to communicate on the internet, then this might be the first place to
check to ensure it’s here and allowed.
Display a notification when Windows Firewall blocks a
program can be informative as well, both in identifying programs you
might want to allow as well as being aware of level of malicious access
attempts. Of course if that generates too much noise, you can turn it off as
The Advanced tab includes still more configuration:
If you have multiple networks (and your Bluetooth and Firewire/1394
connections count as networks), then you’ll see each listed separately. You can
enable/disable the firewall for each separately, as well as configure additional
exceptions on a per-network basis.
This is also the tab where you can turn on Security
Logging. Especially if you suspect a problem or malicious attack,
turning on logging can help you track what the firewall is doing.