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I'm trying to secure my computer against local network attacks for when I'm at university or a LAN party.

At home, we have a router which serves this purpose. But at university and LAN I don't have such thing, which leaves me behind with the Windows Firewall which too my guess doesn't properly block local network traffic well. How can I close connections or shield my computer to prevent local network attacks?

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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Install a third party firewall like Comodo

By default this will block all traffic - including local network traffic - and you have to explicitly allow access.

Don't forget you might have to turn off the Windows firewall to get it to work properly.

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I've run both ZoneAlarm and Comodo. Comodo has taken the crown as the easiest and most powerful for a couple years now. –  music2myear Apr 6 '11 at 14:32
    
Have had good experience with Comodo in the past, I like how it does more than just being a firewall, protecting me against user-initiated attacks like malware... :) –  Tom Wijsman Apr 6 '11 at 14:38
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Due to most residential grade firewalls having the default settings (which hardly anyone changes) of allowing all outgoing network traffic, I would argue that whilst not perfect, the built in Firewall of Windows Vista and Windows 7 is good enough for most situations.

If you go to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, you will find that it is highly configurable and you can set many rules.

Alternatively, I would recommend getting a cheap (ethernet/non-modem) router and going via that.

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I agree that Windows Firewall with default settings does not offer the best protection, but it is able to be customized like any other firewall. You just have to know what to do! –  Theo Apr 6 '11 at 12:32
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My personal favorite firewall for when I have to use windows is ZoneAlarm - their basic version is free, and it's very secure.

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The Firewall included in Windows 7 is IMO quite enough.

In the last few years personal firewalls have been following the same trend as antivirus software, which is, increased bloating, invasiveness and feature creep, as a consequence of incresed competition on the market and relative stability of the underlying technology.

This has a serious impact on both the computer performance and the ability to perform everyday tasks, as these programs have a tendency to interfere with the correct operation of many legitimate programs.

Also system stability is at stake, as personal firewalls need to install drivers that, due to lack of proper testing, can cause the machine to crash (BSoDs) or otherwise function improperly.

If you need help in configuring Windows Firewall, this is a good starting point: http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=239750

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I'm a power user so I'll monitor Comodo's behavior, it required minimal configuration and protects me way more than the Windows Firewall. Thanks for the link for when I decide to switch back, +1. –  Tom Wijsman Apr 6 '11 at 15:02
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