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Can I configure the built-in firewall in Windows 7 to ask me if I want to let a program open an outbound connection?

I can disable all outgoing traffic and manually create rules for programs, but I can't find a way of letting the firewall prompt me when a program wants to initiate an outgoing connection.

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I thought that it had finally been added in WF for Vista/7, but apparently not; it’s still as limited as XP SP2. This makes the WF almost completely useless since most users will still need a third-party firewall. ◔_◔ –  Synetech Feb 24 '13 at 21:17
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5 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Try Windows 7 Firewall Control (the free version is good enough). This program is small, works with the Windows Firewall core - but is independent from the Windows Firewall application itself - and will ask you what to do. There is an annoying sound but this can be disabled.

I found that if you turn off the application, all new programs without firewall rules are blocked without notification.

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If there was a way to upvote this 10 times I would. I used to work with Sygate Personal Firewall on XP and it was awesome. Windows Firewall Notifier is doing a great job of stopping outgoing connections for approval –  KalenGi Sep 3 '13 at 21:51
    
Upon installation, you have to sit through a few dozen "allow this program?" prompts before you can access any settings. –  romkyns May 4 at 14:59
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I know this is an old post, but it may "help" other people as well: you could give Windows Firewall Notifier a try (freeware, by myself). It displays a notification balloon in the system tray, then allows you to choose what you want to do through a dedicated window (as ZoneAlarm or others would do).

It only relies on the Windows embedded firewall's existing features, and runs as a scheduled task to avoid taking up resources when not necessary (Windows Vista / 7 allows for the launch of tasks on specific events, firewall events included).

Feel free to contact me using the dedicated link at the bottom of my website.

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It appears that the default Windows 7 firewall does not support a popup which asks you about outbound connections. The only reference I could find about asking on an outbound connection was people saying it can't be done.

ex. http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7itprosecurity/thread/bef6e4a7-d43f-4c85-8229-e7be62d59517

If you want a firewall which does ask you every time there is a connection outbound there are a myriad of products which can do this, the most notable (as it's been around forever) is ZoneAlarm.

From a security perspective disabling all outbound traffic except for specific applications (IE, FF, antivirus, etc.) is a much better solution as once it's setup correctly you will rarely have to update it. If you install new programs frequently though this can be labor intensive and the gains not worth the time spent maintaining the list.

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The problem with that approach is that, if you're constantly installing new software, you have to manually set up rules for every new program. Also, it seems a bit overkill to have to create new rules for temporary software that you're only going to use once or twice. I think a third-party firewall would be the best solution. –  Sasha Chedygov Dec 11 '10 at 0:20
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@musicfreak I agree. If you were constantly installing or removing software a white list may not be the best tool for the job. On the other hand the majority of users tend to install new programs which require outbound internet access fairly infrequently (at least where it's vital). I will edit my post too include this drawback. –  Daisetsu Dec 11 '10 at 0:22
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That's true, I'm just saying that I could see the need for such a feature. +1 regardless. –  Sasha Chedygov Dec 11 '10 at 0:25
    
Sounds like a good idea, although the number of people who would use it are so limited from Microsoft's point of view it's not likely to happen. –  Daisetsu Dec 11 '10 at 0:28
    
The problem with that approach is that, if you're constantly installing new software, you have to manually set up rules for every new program. And worse, it is not always as simple as allowing a single .exe file; there may be dependencies and interactions that complicate what accesses the Internet and specifically what needs to be allowed through and unintended side-effects. For example, how would you allow Windows Update to have access? What file would you make a rule for? svchost.exe? What about all of the other services that use it? –  Synetech Feb 24 '13 at 21:14
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Good question, but unfortunately, this can't be done with the Windows Firewall. Your only choice if you absolutely need this functionality is to use a third-party firewall. There are plenty of free ones; I recommend Comodo.

Otherwise, Daisetsu is correct: setting up rules is a much better practice from a security standpoint.

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A much better program is Binisoft's Windows Firewall Control. Its 275kb - and has awesome functions like selecting an apps window to create a rule for example and is incredibly minimal and easy to use. Unlike that app up there which I tried, its ghastly and the free version doesn't allow system processes control.

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