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| Are Consumer-Grade Firewalls Really Secure?
Security experts are warning that firewall products marketed to home users may provide inadequate security. Dial-up users need little more than anti-virus software, since their exposure on the Internet is minimal. However, home broadband users make a more inviting target for attackers. Most consumer level routers do little more than network address translation (NAT). This allows a home user to use one set of IP (Internet protocol) addresses internally, and another externally. This hides a computer's IP address, but does not protect a machine once an attacker breaks through. Some NAT boxes also filter packets, blocking specific IPs or protocols. However, a good NAT box should do stateful inspection, checking inbound packets to ensure they were requested by the recipient. Firewalls, both of the hardware and software varieties, offer consumers a false sense of security, according to Mark Adams, IT specialist for the Home Loan Center. Nonetheless, home users can increase their protection with such products by changing the default password, keeping products up to date, turning on encryption for wireless products, and turning off non-essential ports. Most users do not understand cybersecurity, and believe all they need is anti-virus software, which CyberGuard vice president Paul Henry describes as a "last resort."
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