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This chapter is from the book

Batten down the Hatches—10-Minute Tactics

The simplest way to defend your computer quickly against hackers is to use a firewall. So let’s look at your two fastest options. Either can be done in 10 minutes.

Turn on Windows Firewall

If you have Windows XP’s Service Pack 2 installed, your Windows Firewall is probably already turned on. Here’s how to check:

  1. Click Start and then click Control Panel.
  2. In the Control Panel, click Windows Security Center.
  3. Click Windows Firewall (see Figure 3.7).
  4. Click the button next to On (Recommended) and click OK. The firewall is turned on.
Figure 3.7

Figure 3.7 You find access to Windows Firewall in the Security Center applet in Control Panel, if Windows XP Service Pack 2 is installed.

If you haven’t already installed SP2, you need to do that soon. In the meantime, the original version of XP does include Windows Firewall. Though it’s inferior to the SP2 edition, it’s better than nothing until you can get SP2 installed. Here’s how to activate it:

  1. Click Start, Control Panel, Network and Internet Connections, and then click Network Connections.
  2. If you don’t see Network and Internet Connections, click Switch to Category View (on the left side of the Control Panel window).
  3. Highlight the connection you want to protect by clicking on it once. Then click Change Settings of This Connection from the list on the left. If you use a high-speed Internet connection, such as a cable modem or digital subscriber line (DSL) service (high speed Internet from your phone company), look for Local Area Connection.
  4. Click the Advanced tab and then click the Protect My Computer and Network by Limiting or Preventing Access to This Computer from the Internet check box.

Activate the Firewall on a Mac OS X System

The latest operating system from Apple, called Mac OS X, comes with a software firewall that’s turned off. You can switch it on by going to System Preferences, Sharing, Firewall, and clicking on the Start button.

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