Windows Network and Firewall
A firewall is simply a network security tool that analyzes incoming and outgoing connections and automatically allows or blocks specific traffic based on a predefined set of security rules. Firewall and network protection in Windows Security allows you to view the status of the Microsoft Defender Firewall and the networks your computer is connected to.
By turning Microsoft Defender Firewall on or off, you can access advanced Microsoft Defender Firewall settings for different network types, including Private (discoverable) networks, Public (non-discoverable) networks, and Domain (workplace) networks.
Firewall and Network Protection in Windows
The Firewall and Network Protection in Windows is just one of the seven areas that protect your device from cyber-attacks. It enables you to specify how you want to secure your device in Windows Defender Security Center. These seven areas include:
• Account protection
• Firewall & network protection
• Virus & threat protection
• App & browser control
• Device security
• Family options
• Device performance & health
As a network administrator, you can choose to hide the Firewall and Network Protection area from users. You can configure this area to prevent users from accessing the Firewall and Network protection settings and making unauthorized changes. By hiding the Account protection area, it won’t appear on the home page of Windows Security Center, and its icon won’t show on the navigation bar of the app.
How to Show or Hide Firewall and Network Protection via GPEDIT
Here are the steps to follow if you want to show or hide Firewall and Network Protection in Windows via GPEDIT:
• First, run GPEDIT to open the Group Policy Editor
• Head over to Computer Configuration >> Administrative templates >> Windows components >> Windows Security >> Firewall and Network Protection.
• Click the Hide the Firewall and network protection setting.
• Toggle the setting to Enabled and click OK.
How to Show or Hide Firewall and Network Protection via Registry
To show or hide firewall and network protection via registry, follow these steps:
• Download the Hide-Firewall-and-Network-Protection.reg file and double click it to merge it.
• Next, click Run on the prompt and choose Yes on the UAC prompt
• Click OK to allow the merge
• Restart device to apply changes
• Finally, delete the downloaded .reg file
Network Settings in the Firewall and Network Protection Area
When you choose one of the three network types (private, public, or workplace) in the Windows Firewall and Network Protection area, you’ll open its settings page. Windows Security will then tell you which, if any, network type your device is currently connected to. Typically, your computer will be connected to a single network at a time.
The network setting page features a simple slider for turning the firewall on or off for that specific type of network. However, you should note that turning the firewall off may heighten the security risk for your device or data.
You can check the box under the Incoming connections section to block all incoming connections, including those in the allowed apps list. Checking this box directs the Microsoft Defender Firewall protection to block other applications except for the allowed apps list. Turning this feature on improves your security, but it may cause some apps to cease working.
Other essential settings on the Firewall and network protection page include:
• Network and Internet troubleshooter: If you experience general network connectivity problems, you can use this troubleshooter to automatically diagnose and fix them.
• Firewall notification settings: Whenever your firewall blocks something, you can configure this section to get fewer or more notifications as you deem fit.
• Allow an app through firewall: If the Windows firewall is blocking an app you need, simply add an exception for that app to allow it.
• Advanced settings: If you understand firewall well, you can use advanced settings to access the classic Windows Defender Firewall that lets you define inbound and outbound rules and connection security rules. You can also monitor logs for the firewall. However, you’ll want to avoid using advanced settings if you’re not well-versed with firewall settings. Incorrectly adding, deleting, or changing rules could make your system more vulnerable or cause certain apps to fail.
• Restore firewalls to default: If unprecedented changes occur to your Windows Firewall settings and cause things not to work correctly, you can use this area to restore the settings back to the default configurations that came with your device. If your company has applied specific policies to configure the firewall setting, those setting will be reapplied.
Additional Types of Firewalls
Your firewall is typically the first line of defense in network security by establishing a barrier between your secured, controlled, and trusted internal network and untrusted outside networks, like the Internet. Common types of firewalls include:
A proxy firewall provides the gateway from one network to the next for a specific application. This type of firewall can provide extra functionalities such as content caching and cybersecurity by blocking direct connections from external networks. However, a proxy firewall may impact throughput capabilities and the apps they can support.
Stateful Inspection Firewall
The stateful inspection firewall is considered the “traditional” firewall. It allows or blocks network traffic based on its state, port, and protocol. Additionally, a stateful inspection firewall monitors all activity from the moment a connection is opened to the time it’s closed. It makes filtering decisions based on administrator-defined rules and context.
Unified Threat Management (UTM) Firewall
UTM devices typically combine the functions of a stateful inspection firewall with an antivirus and intrusion prevention solution. It may also include cloud management and other additional cybersecurity services. Typically, UTMs emphasize simplicity and ease of use.
Next-generation Firewall (NGFW)
Today’s firewalls have evolved beyond stateful inspection and packet filtering. You can deploy next-generation firewalls to mitigate modern-day threats such as application-layer attacks and sophisticated malware. A next-generation firewall also includes integrated intrusion prevention and application awareness and control to identify and block risky apps.
A threat-focused firewall includes all the capabilities of a standard NGFW firewall and also provides advanced threat detection and mitigation. By deploying a threat-focused NGFW firewall, you can easily tell which assets are most at risk with full context awareness. As a result, you can quickly react to cyber-attacks with intelligent security automation to set policies and dynamically hardens your defenses.
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