XP Service Pack 2 Windows Firewall: does little to stop Spyware attacks

Dennis Faas's picture

I'm making oodles of progress in my quest to finish a Failsafe guide on installing XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). The majority of the eBook is completed; all that is left now is to finish off the "post installation" section, make a video tutorial, answer 300 emails related to SP2, and put together a mini FAQ (frequently asked questions).

A lot of work? You bet -- but certainly not impossible. I really thought I'd have this guide complete last week, but ran into a bit of a delay when I realized that it would be best to streamline a major portion of the book in order to simplify and consolidate some steps. This created a domino-effect, resulting in even more restructuring. Would it be wrong to use the cliche': "Patience is a virtue", or "good things come to those who wait"? Fingers crossed, I am working very hard to complete this guide and promise to have it ready very shortly!

Speaking of XP Service Pack 2, I received from Infopackets Reader Guille S. last week regarding an incorrect statement I made about the new Windows Firewall. Guille writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Last week, you mentioned that the Windows Firewall protects both incoming and outgoing traffic. This is incorrect. The new Windows Firewall in SP2 only blocks incoming 'attacks'. So, for example, if there is Spyware on your machine and extracts personal information from your computer and then decides to relay this information to interested third-parties, the Windows Firewall will do little to block the communication. This is very problematic, considering that Spyware infestation (these days) is practically an epidemic. "

My response:

Noted, and thank you (and others) for bringing this to my attention. The truth is that I haven't done much research on the Windows Firewall (yet) because I opted to disable it when I installed Service Pack 2 on my machine in preference for Zone Alarm, a firewall that I'm already comfortable using. And, yes, Zone Alarm (free) blocks both incoming and outgoing traffic. Why Microsoft hasn't adopted this ideology is beyond me: it certainly makes sense in terms of a Spyware attack, as Guille has illustrated.

I will certainly address this in the eBook. In fact, I already have a downloadable video tutorial which shows you how to install (and use) the Zone Alarm Firewall. The video is actually part of my PC and Internet Security Guide that I made a few months back, but will certainly bundle nicely as part the XP Service Pack 2 eBook release. Stay tuned!

Update 10 / 27/ 2004: More Security Issues concerning the new Windows Firewall have been pointed by our Readers. Click to read this critically important update (it'll make you think twice about using the Windows Firewall)!

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