1. Goal 2
  2. Step D

Enable the Built-in Firewall

This is probably the simplest step in the journey.


Why use a software firewall?

The software firewall is just that, software that is on your computer that protects the computer itself from other people and systems when you're connected to a network.

You may have a hardware firewall at your home or work that provides similar protection for your whole network. It may even be built-in to your modem or router.

The software firewall we're looking at in this step is a firewall that lives on your actual computer and protects it, regardless of which network it connects to. This becomes super important when you leave your home or office and connect to a coffee shop, hotel, conference or any other Wi-Fi network.

As with all the other steps in this process, it's another layer to help protect you. And this one is built-in to both Windows and macOS, so it's free. You just need to make sure it's turned on.

How to enable your firewall on Windows

In most cases, you'll already have the software firewall enabled on Windows, but it is a good idea to make sure.

If you installed Bitdefender Total Security in the last step, you should already have Bitdefender's software firewall enabled and running on your computer. You can confirm this by going to Protection → Firewall in your Bitdefender app. The switch should be to the right and blue to indicate that it is on.

You can learn more about the Bitdefender Firewall and how to change settings at their firewall page here.

If you did not install the Bitdefender package in the last step, and you're using the built-in Windows Defender software, you can check that your firewall is enabled in the Windows Security app under Firewall & Network Protection. It should say “Firewall is on” under each of the three sections.

How to enable your firewall on macOS

The macOS firewall will come disabled, so you'll need to manually turn it on.

Go to System Preferences → Security & Privacy → Firewall. It will say either Firewall: On or Firewall: Off.

If it is off, you can enable it by clicking the in the lower-left corner, entering your computer password, and clicking the Turn On Firewall button.

This may vary slightly between versions of macOS, so take a look at Apple's instructions here. This page also includes more information about their firewall options and how they work. It's a great read for macOS users looking for more computer security.

For example, under the Firewall Options... section, you may want to disable Automatically allow downloaded signed software to receive incoming connections so that you have some control or awareness of which apps open the firewall on your behalf.

It depends on your needs and level of comfort in seeing a few popups from the firewall requesting access from time to time. You can learn more about it all at the Apple link above.

If you're looking for a more advanced, in-depth firewall with further details and options in exchange for more complexity and a bit of work, take a look at these third-party, paid software firewalls: Little Snitch for macOS and Glasswire for Windows.

For free and open-source options, take a look at Lulu for macOS and Portmaster for Windows.

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