We all know by now that Microsoft filled Windows 10 with one too many methods to monitor your data, also making it the last Windows to hit the market. This won’t force all of us to switch to a different OS though, however tempting it may be.
On the other hand, Microsoft is not the main target, nor threat, as all data-collecting activity is intended to be a way to aid end users in the hope to bring further improvements to the OS. The information superhighway is more or less the root of all evil, being the perfect place for malicious programs to spread and fulfill their dirty deeds.
Needless to say, Windows doesn’t provide any control over the data it sends to Microsoft, but it does offer some tools which ensure that less threats make their way onto your computer. The basic shield is the Firewall, with simple methods to allow and deny access through it. However, there’s more to it than meets the eye, so let’s get to know Windows Firewall a little better.
Windows Firewall with Advanced Security
Yes, Windows Firewall comes with Advanced Security, and even with its own, thorough configuration window. It can be accessed from several locations, but the easiest way to get to it is to search for Windows Firewall with Advanced Security after pressing Win + S.
It gives you the possibility to view all services and locations it blocks, in case you turned it on. These are mere rules that trigger when conditions are met. You find them in the left navigation pane, and are Inbound Rules, Outbound Rules, Connection Security Rules, as well as Monitoring.
You can filter according to Profile, State, and group, export the entry list either as TXT or CSV, and attempt to diagnose and repair. However, you’re not limited to viewing them, as you also have the possibility to configure your own rules or edit existing ones.
Creating a Firewall Rule
Note: Messing around with Advanced Security isn’t quite a task for everyone. Altering default configurations can allow malicious content to easily infiltrate your PC, and creating rules without proper aid or knowledge can block more than you intended.
Step 1: Select the category for which to create a new rule from the left pane.
Step 2: Choose New Rule either from the Actions menu, right panel, or context menu.
Step 3: You can do this for a Program, Port, Predefined (that control connections for a Windows experience), or a Custom Rule.
Step 4: Either set it to apply to All Programs or use the Browse dialog to look for a specific program executable file.
Step 5: Choose whether to Block the Connection entirely, or Allow the Connection if it is Secure by specifying custom parameters.
Step 6: Select Domain, Private, and Public profiles so that everything is blocked.
Step 7: Give it a name so you can easily recognize it, and a description to include other details.
Adding custom rules can be done for more activities other than blocking a specific program. The wizard that guides you through the process changes the option it provides in the steps to come, according to your decision. You can also block ports, protocols, or set an IP range only for specific domains and services.
Your custom rules are applied right away, and appear on the list. They, as well as the existing ones, can be further tweaked through the Properties panel brought up by double-click.
Windows Firewall doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, and it surely doesn’t. There are a lot of other Firewall applications you can count on for both extra security and comfortable management. This being said, let’s meet the runner-ups:
|Staying hidden in the system tray most of the times, it comes with several Modes like Normal, Block all, Allow Outgoing, Disable, or Autolearn. LAN traffic can be blocked, and careful management can be done to Whitelist by Executable, Process, or Window. It also shows speed at which data goes in and out, as well as all active connections. Read more about it and grab it here.|
|ZoneAlarm Free Firewall|
|Right from the setup, you’re asked whether to block everything or set it to auto learn. It quietly sits in the system tray, only bothering you when necessary. Comes with a Game Mode for flawless entertainment. Quick and easy configuration through the intuitive menus. Possibility to add Programs, Hosts, IP addresses and ranges, Subnet to a list of items to block. More details and download links here.|
A few last words
Until the guys over at Microsoft decide what the future of the OS is, or at least let end users know about their plans, it’s best to rely on third-party alternatives for some activities. Although Windows Firewall is powerful, it can easily be turned off to make some room for better players on the market.