Handling firewall alerts
3 February 2009
A good firewall does two things: it stops other computers from accessing your computer and it notifies you when programs on your computer want to access other computers (the internet). Firewalls usually block attacks on your computer without much fuss, but they often ask for your opinion before blocking a program on your computer from phoning home. So, suppose you get an alert from your firewall like the one below:
What is msfeedssync.exe? Should you let the program access the internet? If you aren’t familiar with the program name, I recommend searching Google. Just type in “msfeedssyinc.exe” and hit search. Here is an image I pulled from the search results page:
In my case, since I don’t use Internet Explorer’s feed features, I decided to deny internet access to msfeedssync.exe. It probably wouldn’t have done any harm to give the program access, but it also doesn’t hurt to err on the side of caution. If you later find out that internet access for a program that you previously denied is critical to something you want to do, just open up your firewall program and change the permission settings.
Over time, I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of programs on my computer that want to send data somewhere, but don’t really need to. And by paying attention to the alerts, I’ve caught a couple of spyware programs before they were able to send information about me back to their keepers.
Read more about firewalls
Comment by TT — 4 February 2009 @ 4:08 am
Thanks that is helpful!
Why on earth are so many programs “phoning home”? It seems utterly unnecessary.
Comment by tom — 14 February 2009 @ 4:58 am
dude, you were using IE?
Comment by Ian Saxon — 14 February 2009 @ 5:16 am
@tom: nope, but it was trying to access the internet anyway. Gotta love chatty programs!