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  1. #1
    iNET Interactive
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    Outbound blocking for Windows Firewall




    LANGALIST PLUS

    Outbound blocking for Windows Firewall


    By Fred Langa

    Windows' built-in firewall does not automatically alert you to phone-home sorts of behavior.

    But you can alter the firewall's default settings, either manually or with a free add-on tool.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2011/03/17/05 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    SQL server update problem

    My heart lifted when I read "Quick fix for a problematic SQL Server update" in your column this morning! I have been battling with this update for weeks - but on my machine it fails with Error Code 659.

    I contacted Microsoft Support about this, but the advice I have had has not helped.

    Firstly I was instructed to manually download the Service Pack to my desktop and install it. This failed with the error message "Unable to install Windows Installer MSI file".

    Then I was told to download the Windows Installer Clean Up Utility (a performance in itself) and remove the program MSXML 6.0; then reinstall that and try the SQL Server Pack again. However, I do not have MSXML 6.0 on this machine: I have MSXML 4.0 - and when I went back to the MS tech for advice, my emails to her began bouncing as undeliverable.

    She had also given me a link to the SQL Server support bods, so I have tried that, but I can't seem to make contact with them either.

    Any advice would be most welcome. I'm reasonably computer-literate for a middle-aged female person with no specific training in the subject, but I don't even know what this program does, and I'm uneasy about tampering with system stuff because I know that I don't know what I'm doing rummaging about that deeply!

  3. #3
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    Fred reported on a Comodo user who was annoyed that his version of Comodo had failed to update for more than a year. That wasn't Comodo's fault; it was the reader's failure to heed the notices that Comodo was sending regarding the upgrade to an entirely new version.

    Comodo announced the upgrade beginning more than 9 months before they stopped support for version 4 in favor of version 5.

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    Sphinx Software's Windows Firewall Control and Win XP

    I went to the website and no mention of XP. I used to use Zone Alarm which had this feature but I now use Microsoft Security Essentials. Granted it is not necessary on a clean computer but I would consider a strange request an indication I have a problem. Any other suggestions for XP?

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    Hello All,

    Upon reading Fred's article, I went to the GRC site and ran the outbound test. My computer [with Norton INternet Security 2011 installed], failed. I cannot find an appropriate setting to block outbound.

    Thanks ahead of time - all insight is appreciated.

    Bob Miller

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    Actually, there is a fault in Comodo's updating and installing new versions, too. I had the same problem on two Win 7 machines, one Ultimate and 1 Home Premium, in two different locations. I always got an error message saying that Comodo couldn't find CFP_Setup.msi in C:|Windows\Installer\. How could it not find a utility that was part of its own installation package? For some reason the Comodo setup put the CFP_Setup.msi elsewhere, in its own program folder if memory serves. Moving the .MSI file to the correct folder fixed the problem. It's something to look for.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DurbanDon View Post
    I went to the website and no mention of XP. I used to use Zone Alarm which had this feature but I now use Microsoft Security Essentials. Granted it is not necessary on a clean computer but I would consider a strange request an indication I have a problem. Any other suggestions for XP?
    Hi DurbanDon,

    Windows Firewall in XP is different than Windows Firewall in Vista and Windows 7, but the firewall in XP SP3 is an improvement over the earlier versions. Sphinx Software's Windows Firewall Control for XP is apparently still available.

    You can download and give it a try. If you decide it is not for you then your best bet is a third party firewall. There are several available for free and most are quite good. I tried several on XP and decided on Online Armor Free. It was quieter than some of the others and was very effective. I never experienced any intrusions to speak of.

    I have used the Sphinx Firewall Control for two years now, first on Vista, and currently on Windows 7 32 and 64 bit editions.
    Check out this thread in the Networking Forum for a discussion of firewalls that has been going on this week.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbcapen View Post



    LANGALIST PLUS

    Outbound blocking for Windows Firewall


    By Fred Langa

    Windows' built-in firewall does not automatically alert you to phone-home sorts of behavior.

    But you can alter the firewall's default settings, either manually or with a free add-on tool.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2011/03/17/05 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    My two cents re outbound blocking:
    Like Fred Langa said: Worry more about virus than virus call-home. Preventing virus will automatically eliminate virus call-home.
    However ...
    in my opinion, outbound blocking by firewall is needed.

    Some software has built-in call-home, even if you bought them, own them. Some trialwares, even freewares, also do that.
    For privacy, I would block the outbound call-home.

    The problem: It is quite intrusive in the beginning, to 'train' the firewall for outbound blocking. Or a lot of work to setup the outbound 'rules'. A no-hassle, or less-hassle outbound blocking firewall would be nice.
    A hardware router with pre-installed outbound blocking rules is even better (hard to be hacked by virus). Presently, the product is expensive. If the normal consumer router has flash memory to easily insert the rules by consumers, it would be nice. This will eliminate software firewall. At the least, PC runs faster without the software firewall.

  9. #9
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    re. Windows 7 and MSE and Outbound Firewall Protections

    Here's a discussion at Microsoft Social Answers which pretty much sums up Microsoft's own thinking in the way MSE is set up with regards to outbound protections. And it includes a good discussion of the pros and cons of HIPS and so-called "leak test" protections.

    The upshot seems to be that MSE does include behavior heuristics which silently block any outbound connections behaviors which MSE deems potentially harmful or very suspicious. This does not provide 100 percent protection, but it is enough protection for all but the riskiest user behaviors. Once a computer is doing these sorts of things which MSE detects, or even the sorts of things which HIPS detects, it is already too late to simply block the infection -- the computer is already compromised and should be cleaned up rather than blocking the outbound connections.

    Fred seems to take a similar approach in his use of the Windows 7 Firewall. So, unless you have very chatty freeware or paid software which poses serious privacy challenges, I would agree that the addition of outbound firewall restrictions or cryptic notifications which the average user could not possibly know how to respond to, is completely unnecessary and confusing to most home users, and even some IT Professionals working with Enterprise Networks.

    Do as you wish, but I would not recommend any outbound firewall setup except what MSE itself does, for Windows 7 users.

    Now Windows XP is a different matter, as there are absolutely no outbound protections built in. There, I go whole-hog with heuristics and HIPS, embodied in the Comodo Personal Firewall with Defense Plus and Commodo DNS Service. And MSE is still the only AV product I use even with Windows XP. I do regular Rootkit and Spyware scans in addition to MSE Full Scans about once a week, before making my Image Backup.

    Unlike Windows 7, Windows XP needs all the security help it can get. Maybe the Vista-Not-Ready laptop I own should get the Linux treatment, at least as a dual-boot, and take Windows XP off line for good. By 2014, this will be the only safe option. Then again, how many laptops keep running for nearly ten years?
    -- Bob Primak --

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