With the release of SP2 this week Microsoft has made Windows XP more secure. Especially with the overhaul of its old built-in firewall (Internet Connection Firewall). Microsoft's Internet Connection Firewall was a joke when it was introduced; all it did was cause users more problems. With SP2 came a new firewall dubbed "Windows Firewall". According to some analysts this firewall from Microsoft isn't much better.
When compared to other firewalls such as ZoneAlarm, SP2's firewall is pretty bad. Commercial firewalls such as ZoneAlarm includes a feature that only allows authorized programs to access the Internet. This isn't the case with Windows Firewall; in fact Windows Firewall only filters incoming traffic. That's right Microsoft's firewall doesn't block outbound traffic, which means applications can send outbound packets. According to commercial firewall makers "the API used to manage the Windows Firewall could also be used by attackers to modify the software or turn it off." This is according to comments made by other firewall makers.
Granted that SP2's firewall isn't as robust as its rivals (ZoneAlarm, Sygate, etc...) it's still a good step. I think it's also true in some way that these firewall experts are feeling the pressure from Microsoft's free firewall. After all these companies make their revenue by offering security applications for Windows. I agree that Windows Firewall lacks features that I feel are important in a firewall, but this firewall update is still better than the original. In the end it will give the general public a more secure computer.
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