App demystifies Windows 7 built-in firewall

If you want fine-grained control over the way that the Windows firewall works in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, you'll want to download this free program

Want fine-grained control over the firewall built into Windows 7 and Windows Vista--especially the way it blocks outbound connections? Good luck. Even if you manage to unearth the controls buried deep in Windows menus and applications, you'll be baffled. Windows 7 Firewall Control Free solves the problem for you.

Windows 7 Firewall Control Free lets you tell the Windows firewall to block applications from making outbound connections to the Internet, or to customize the way they make those connections. Outbound filters like this are important, because if you've been infected with a Trojan or similar software, that malware makes an outbound connection without your knowledge, letting someone else take control of your PC. Some malware can also turn your PC into a spam-spewing robot, sending out email without your knowledge.

When you run the program, whenever an application tries to access the Internet, a screen pops up, with the application name, the publisher, and similar information, as well its path and file name. You can then enable or disable inbound or outbound connections it tries to make, either permanently, or just this one time. If you're not sure if the program is malware or not, go to www.processlibrary.com and do a search for the file name, for details.

Without the Windows 7 Firewall Control, you won't be able to control how programs access the Internet to this degree. You'll have to instead rely on the decisions that the built-in Windows firewall makes on its own. In most instances, those decisions are the right ones, but if you're more comfortable making those decisions yourself, you'll want this program.

Be aware that by default, the control is very aggressive in the way it uses the Windows firewall to block outbound and inbound connections. You won't even be able to access the Internet using Internet Explorer until you use the control to tell the firewall to let it through. So the first time an alert pops up telling you Internet Explorer's access to the Internet has been disabled--or another program you want to hop onto the Internet-- make sure you enable it. Also, the alert sound that the control uses to tell you about events is incredibly annoying--kind of a loud, baby shout--so you'll want to change it.

Despite these annoyances, if you want fine-grained control over the way that the Windows firewall works in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, you'll want to download this free program.

This software is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions; choose the one that works for your OS. Note that there is also a for-pay version of the firewall available that offers extra tools, including advanced features such as port forwarding management.

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Preston Gralla

PC World (US online)
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