You Don’t Need a Firewall
We started debating this issue a long time ago — and we told our readers then not to waste money or 3rd-party firewalls or buying security software that had a firewall.
We became more and more suspicious as companies who make anti-virus suites started making outrageous claims as to what the firewall contained in their particular suite could protect you from – things like:
We knew then, and we told you then, that these claims were unfounded and ridiculous. A firewall does not protect you from any of these things and some firewalls actually negatively affect your computer and browser performance.
Once upon a time… a long time ago, firewalls had their place. Back in the day when buffer overflow attacks were common firewalls could protect some computers from some of these attacks – but they never could, even back then, protect all computers from all of these kinds of attacks.
Firewalls today a vestigial – that is they are a very small and unnecessary part of basic computer protection. Firewalls today are leftovers from an era long past, but they still remain a powerful marketing tool used by the likes of Norton, Avast, McAfee, AVG, Trend Micro and others to confuse and ensnare customers who don’t know any better.
Do you want proof firewalls don’t work? Do you think any of the recent hacks of major Web sites – one of the most recent being Sony Pictures – would have happened or could have happened if firewalls prevented anything? Do you think that the major companies that had significant data stolen couldn’t afford the world’s best and strongest software and hardware firewalls. Of course they could – they could afford firewalls of any price and you can bet that all these sites that were attacked were operating behind strong professional-grade firewalls. So do you really think the firewalls contained in Avast or AVG or Norton or McAfee security suites are going to as good as or better than the firewalls that Sony Pictures, for example, was operating behind?
All software and hardware firewalls today are remnants of firewalls made during a time when attacks were overflow type attacks. Very few, if any, of the attacks we face today are those types of attacks.
And being a home user, far from the madding crowd of big corporate web sites, your chances of being targeted by a hacker or group of hackers are less then one in a billion. If hackers are going to spend time hacking into something – it is going to be something worth hacking into. Hackers are not stupid – they’re going to spend the time and take the risks where the rewards are great, not were the rewards are likely to be small. So if some money-hungry security suite manufacturer tells you that it can prevent you from losing your identity, from being hacked, from man-in-the-middle attacks or from phishing – they’re not be honest with you.
Security expert and InfoWorld columnist Roger A. Grimes agrees…
“Once, firewalls were useful for certain types of attacks. Now they’re more trouble than they’re worth — and create a false sense of security into the bargain.”
We couldn’t have said it better. A false sense of security is much more dangerous than a user who is wary and alert. Most attacks today come from something users have downloaded. And after it gets on the system, malware can wreak havoc with their privacy and their computer. And most of the time people are tricked into download the very programs and toolbars that violate their privacy and potentially cause great monetary or personal information losses.
Firewalls, at one time, worked some of the time against certain kinds of attacks – but even back in their day they didn’t work on all kinds of attacks. Hackers, if determined, have proven beyond a doubt that they’re able to get around firewalls very easily.
Firewalls protect you from very little and as Roger Grimes says — they’re most often more trouble than they’re worth.
Are we telling you that you should even turn off your Windows firewall? It wouldn’t hurt much if you did. But since Windows firewall is one of the least intrusive and one of the least troublesome firewalls, and since it’s turned on by default in Windows, we’d just leave it on. Just don’t expect it or any firewall to protect you from much.
If you doubt anything we are saying here just ask yourself – if firewalls protected computers why have there been so many data breeches and security hacks happening to companies with mulit-million-dollar IT budgets, the best and the brightest computer techs, and the resources to secure the best firewall software and hardware available.
We think it’s time to put the firewall ruse to rest.