The Windows Firewall is one of the best ways to manage the traffic to and from your computer. In this video, you’ll learn the different options for configuring the Windows Firewall and how to configure an inbound or outbound security rule.
Windows Firewall is a relatively important piece of your operating system security and generally we want to have it turned on all the time, but there may be times when we think there may be an issue relating to the firewall, either allowing or not allowing certain traffic to pass. So in those cases, we may need to temporarily disable the firewall while we perform some troubleshooting. You can disable the firewall from the main screen of the Windows Firewall. There’s an option right in the configurations to turn the Windows Firewall on or off. You will need elevated permissions to be able to do that. You can see there’s a shield there that designates that you’ll need more than simple user access to be able to turn on and off the firewall. There are also different settings for the firewall depending on what type of network you’re connecting to. If you’re in a public network, you may want to set up your firewall to be very strict and only allow certain types of traffic inbound. And if you’re on a private network, you may allow many more types of traffic to traverse the firewall. And you could make all of these customizations settings within each section of the Windows Firewall. There are also a couple of quick configuration settings you can make when you drill down into the network type. One of these is to block all incoming connections, including those in the list of allowed applications. This would obviously be a case where you wanted nothing to be able to connect your system. And if you’re concerned about the incoming connections this would be a very quick check mark and you’ve now blocked everything from the outside. The other option is to notify me when Windows Firewall blocks a new app. Usually Windows will put a prompt on your screen telling you that a new application is trying to communicate and then you get to decide whether you’d like to allow or disallow it. But if you’ve already made all of your firewall configuration settings in you don’t want any notification, you can uncheck that box so that Windows Firewall does not give you any prompts when a new application is trying to communicate. Most of the time you won’t have to make any manual configuration changes to your Windows Firewall, but if you install a new application, and you would like to have people access that application from the outside then you may have to create an exception inside of your firewall. One of the exceptions that you can make is based on the application name itself. So you can specify the name of the app and you can decide whether that application should be allowed or disallowed through the firewall. You can also configure this exception to be based on a TCP or UDP port number. This is obviously much broader than using a very specific application name, but it does allow everything to traverse based on that port number. You could also refer to a set of pre-defined exceptions that are already in the firewall even if they are currently configured. Makes very easy to point and click and instantly have an exception created. And of course, you can create your own customized rule that combines many of these different parameters together. Here’s my Windows Firewall front end. I have three different networks configured. One when I’m connected to my Windows domain. I’m not currently connected to my domain so it says, not connected. I have this set up for private networks that I’m currently on and connected to and then I’ve guest or public networks configured, but I’m not connected to one of those networks either. Let’s say that I would like to add an exception to one of my private network firewall rules. In my case, I have installed a web server and I would like to have people access that web server on port 80 from the outside. So let’s go to the Advanced Settings for Windows Firewall. This will bring up the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security. And from here I can look at inbound rules, outbound rules, connection security rules, and I can do monitoring of the traffic going through the firewall. So let’s configure a new rule. I have a number of options when I’m configuring a new rule. I can configure it based on a program name, I can based on a port, a pre-defined rule that’s already in the firewall, or I can create one that’s customized. Predefined rules are easy. I can simply list out which one of the applications that I would like to include in this particular rule. In my case, I’d like to do when based on a port number. I’m going to allow port 80 traffic to come inbound to my computer. So I’m going to choose port number. This is a TCP port number. You want to be sure to choose TCP or UDP. I’m going to choose a specific port. In this case, we’re going to choose port 80. And I’m going to click Next. And it gives me an option of what to do when this port 80 traffic is inbound to my computer. Do I want to allow the connection? Do I want to allow the connection if it’s been authenticated and secured by IPsec? Or do I simply want to block the connection? In this case, I would like to allow the connection. This is not one where people will be connecting to me over an IPsec tunnel. So this would allow all normal traffic: IPsec and normal traffic. So let’s click Next. And it’s when does this rule apply? In this case, I’m only setting up this rule for my private network, not for my domain connected network and not when I’m in public. So we’ll click Next. And now I can apply name. Let’s call this Inbound Web Server And I can even put a description here if I wanted. And click Finish. And now we have an inbound web server rule, right here at the top, this configured on my private network. And now I can start my web server and have people connect directly to me. And have all that traffic pass through my Windows Firewall.