Why is my firewall always asking me for permission?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Christine R. write s:

" Dear Dennis,

I do not know a lot about Internet Explorer, so I wanted to know why is it that my firewall will not let me browse the Internet unless I give permission to Windows Explorer to access the Net? If I say "No" when permission is requested, it comes up 'unable to connect to that site', which leaves me with the only way to browse the site by clicking on "Yes." I have uninstalled and reinstalled the firewall and tried everything I know, but to no avail.

So now I'm asking your opinion, as I am worried that if my Windows Explorer is accessing the Net -- will I be exposed to hackers? PS: I love your news letter, and have learnt a lot since receiving it. "

My Response:

There may be a setting in your firewall which is set to ask you for "permission" to launch any program that requires an Internet Connection (such as ICQ, Internet Explorer, etc).

The reason why your firewall is constantly asking for permission to connect to the Internet all the time is to stop unauthorized access attempts (IE: hackers / malicious programs). For example, if a program suddenly launches itself and tries to access the Internet, you will understand that a connection is being made because the firewall will have asked you for permission.

Unfortunately, this is highly annoying since many programs today are interconnected with the Internet. Some firewalls can "learn" if a program is OK to launch, and that type of setting might be in your preferences somewhere. Or, some firewalls require that you turn down the firewall protection so that it does not ask you every time if "program x" is safe to launch or not. Either way, you'll have to look deep inside the settings of your firewall and find out which is the case for you.

As for your question "Is my Internet Explorer open to hackers if I am connected to the Internet?". The answer is "Yes," and "not really". IE security breaches are always being unveiled regularly; so, at some point, someone (somewhere) will find a way to "get inside" of Internet Explorer which in turn can get inside your system. On the other hand: when a new security breach is exposed with Internet Explorer (as it often is), most people on the Net don't know to abuse this "new method" used to hack into Internet Explorer -- but, that doesn't mean it won't happen to you! I suppose you have an equally likely chance of getting "hacked" as your neighbor does.

A firewall is an essential part of Internet surfing these days. But fear not, an up-to-date firewall and an up-to-date Internet Explorer should block MOST hack attempts. You should always check the windows update web site for Internet Explorer updates to make sure that there are no major security holes exposed; you should also make sure that your firewall is up-to-date by visiting the manufacturer's web site on a regular basis.

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