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I have a router, that has built in hardware firewall capabilities, do I need to install an additional software firewall on my Windows 7 PC like ZoneAlarm?

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3 Answers

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Unless you want to do advanced things with it, don't bother. Just make sure your hardware firewall blocks anything except what you explicitly allowed to enter your network and you will be fine.

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I agree with AlexN. For most home situations a personal firewall on your machine is totally not needed. This is a different case if you were to put the machine into the DMZ of your network to act as a server(one that can be accessed from the outside like a webserver or a ssh server). Though in most cases NAT would be more appropriate. As stated above just make sure that that the firewall on the router is enabled, and keep the firmware up to date. Exploits against the router are occasionally still possible, and the only way to patch them would be with a firmware update.

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NAT routers protect against a lot of potential attacks. But run a virus scanner on your computer no matter what. I used to think I didn't need one, until the end of last year when I was innundated with malware. Viruses have become commercially viable and recently more than half of the Fortune 1000 companies globally were infected with a Spanish controlled botnet. It's not a matter of if, but when, your computer will be attacked nowadays. –  PP. Mar 8 '10 at 14:03
    
In general the efficacy of virus scan software is very poor. I should qualify that my comment was meant for a non commercial setting. I do agree with the use of virus scanning software is a good idea in a business. The reality is most people will get a copy of something, not update it or not keep there subscriptions of definition files up to date, think that they are protected, and make poor choices instead of really thinking about what they download or open. I know that this is very simplistic and ignores a few classes of attack. –  spowers Mar 8 '10 at 23:08
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If you have your router properly configured, the Windows Firewall that comes with your Windows 7 will be good enough for most cases. Generally, I'd be more worried about malware sending out stuff then anything getting in, which I believe Windows Firwall will handle (it gives a pop "do you want to give ... access to the internet")

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