Windows XP's Firewall

Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) protects computers from outside security threats. Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) provides Internet access to multiple users.

Firewalls are used by corporations and by individuals to protect their computer systems from external threats. Windows XP provides firewall protection through its Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) software. ICF is used to set restrictions on what information is communicated from your home or small office network to and from the Internet to your network.

Home networks are typically configured using Windows XP’s Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) to allow a single Internet connection to provide Internet access to multiple computers on a network. In these situations, the Internet connection is typically provided by one of the computers on the network. It is recommended that this computer should have ICF enabled. If all Internet connections are through this computer, then this firewall will protect the entire network and all other computers on the network should have ICF disabled.

However, if one or more of the computers on the network can connect directly to the Internet without using the network’s Internet connection device, then it is recommended that ICF should be enabled for those computers. For example, if a computer on the network can access the Internet either through the network or through a direct cable connection to the Internet, then that computer should have ICF enabled. Additionally, any standalone computer (not on a network) that has direct Internet access should have ICF enabled.

ICF and ICS setting can be enabled and disabled either using the Network Setup Wizard or using the Network Connection Properties dialog box. For example, to access the Network Connection Properties dialog box for any of the computers on the wireless home network presented in the Making IT Work for You: Home Networking in Chapter 9, follow the steps below.

Step 1

  • Select Control Panel from the Start menu

Step 2

  • Select Network Connections


  • Select Wireless Network Connection


  • Select View status of this connection from the Network tasks box


Step 3

  • Click Properties in the General tab
  • Click the Advanced tab


The ICF and ICS features can be enabled by clicking the appropriate boxes. For additional details regarding ICF and ICS, consult Windows XP's Help and Support feature.

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