What's a "Firewall?"

Do I need one for a non-networked home operated system? Do I need things Like “Ad-Aware” or Spyware?

Confused in NC

Assuming you are connected to the internet, then yes, yes and definitely no

IANACompuGeek, but a firewall controls who / what programs have access to the internet. The standard is ZoneAlarm and is 100% free.

Ad-aware is designed to seek and destroy spyware.

Spyware is all the little snooping programs that get secretly installed and feed information back to websites you have visted.

Thanks Sailor, the first paragraph in the link explained it all. Thank You.
Tap, thanks also, I’ve heard about and downloaded Ad-aware. It says it’s catching lots of shit, glad I did download it.

Uh, while I wholeheartedly support the definition of the “firewall” as provided by sailor, there are many folks who will accept a much more liberal definition.

Many manufacturers of Network Address Translation (NAT) devices will refer to their products as firewalls. In my mind, and based on the definition above, they are not. These devices are usually referred to as DSL or cable modem routers (with NAT firewall!).

But, alas, that is beside the point. If the machine ever connects to the Internet, it is not fair to call it a “non-networked” machine. If it is truly non-networked, no, you don’t need a firewall.

And since Ad-aware found bad stuff, I will conclude that it is networked, somehow (ethernet card, modem, USB, whatever).

If you only dial-up to the Internet with a modem, particularly if you don’t stay connected for long periods of time, I do not think that a firewall is necessary (certainly doesn’t hurt, though). I would strongly recommend Ad-Aware and good Anti-Virus protection, however. Firewalls don’t (typically) stop malware, spyware, or viruses.

AZCowboy: ZoneAlarm will not kill a virus, but it certainly will stop it from `phoning home.’ ZA lets the user strictly limit which programs can access the Internet, and what level of access those programs can have (simple access or the ability to act as a server). So ZA can act as a diagnostic/detection tool, as well: If a program you’ve never heard of has requested Internet access, you now have a good hint that you should track the thing down and remove it.

Derleth, I concur, but not that many viruses phone home. I use ZoneAlarm, like it alot, and highly recommend it to people who need it. Anti-Virus and Ad-aware should be sufficient for anyone that only uses dial-up and doesn’t leave the connection up for extended periods of time.