In nature, animals are provided with different forms of defenses to protect themselves from predators. Some creators can fly away, others can run super fast, and many have sharp horns, tusks, or beaks to wield aggressively against an attacker.
If your PC were an animal, none of these types of defenses would be of much use because the predators that threaten it are invisible and have an incredibly long reach. The best defenses against “computer hunters” are: 1) a thick virtual skin; 2) finely tuned senses that can “see, hear, smell, and feel” a threat and react before an attack; and 3) a way of camouflaging itself so that it can’t be targeted.
The best firewalls will feature strong aspects of all three of these types of defenses. It will automatically detect suspicious behavior and immediately block intruders. A good firewall will treat requests to access your computer by unknown sources as a threat. An excellent firewall will also prevent intrusions and access to your PC – its network ports – by hiding them. In other words, it will not be receptive to outside connections that you didn’t initiate.
Another way that hackers get into your computer is through “security holes,” which are the unwatched “back doors,” unintentionally created by software developers. Many of these holes are unrelated to viruses and spyware, which is why you need more than just anti-malware to be truly secure.
Hackers can get around a basic inbound-only firewall by exploiting these security holes you didn’t even know were there. This means that your valuable data could then be transmitted to the hacker—unless your firewall can automatically block unauthorized outbound communications.
I’m sure the mother of invention and mother nature would agree that an inbound and outbound firewall like the one ZoneAlarm offers is the best way to protect your PC and yourself in cyberspace, naturally.