As you know Windows Vista, like XP before it has a built-in firewall that protects your PC against external hack attacks. What you may not know is that like all the best third-party firewalls the Vista firewall can also block outgoing traffic, in other words it puts you in charge of the software on your PC trying to make use of your Internet connection. Most of the time this is just legitimate programs looking for updates and so on, but it can also be nasties, like Trojans and keyloggers, sending out details of your PIN numbers or spying on your web surfing activities.
The new firewall sounds great, the only trouble is that by default it has been disabled by Microsoft. It is worried that home users would find it difficult to configure. Well, if you want to take back control you can, with a little freeware utility called Vista Firewall Control, and it couldn’t be easier to use. Once installed every time a program tries to access the net for the first time a window pops up asking you for permission. Once you’ve allowed it you won’t hear from it again. The paid-for versions are even more configurable but for most users this free program will do everything you need, and provide you with the much-needed protection Microsoft has denied you.