One of my projects for Spring Break was to figure out how to cost effectively secure my PC (and then share with other users at school). After doing some thinking these are the things I wanted to do:
1) Label mobile devices so they can be returned if lost.
2) Backup my system regularly - to include data, passwords, etc.
3) Find a system to track my device/laptop if it gets stolen, or misplaced.
4) Set up a firewall to block incoming and outgoing traffic I don't want (make it more secure)
5) Look into encryption software, or a way to ensure my data doesn't get out if I do have my laptop stolen. Do I use a BIOS password, software, an online password storage/retrieval system.
6) Determine what other security software I may need.
I also wanted to do this for my other mobile devices (phone, tablet) and not just my laptop.
Here is part four.....
Safeguarding Laptop - Part 4
Part four in this project is to find a firewall system that will block incoming and outgoing traffic. I currently am using the Windows Firewall, and while it is better than nothing, there are more secure options. The Windows Firewall monitors incoming traffic to make sure your computer does not come under attack. All third party software does this also, but they also monitor outgoing requests in case your computer is infected with malware it will stop you from infecting or attacking others, as well as inform you of suspicious traffic. They also monitor network traffic with algorithms to help protect you even more.
There are many free products available, but the most popular by far is Zone Alarm Free Firewall. I did use it before, but it was getting bloated and slowing down my computer too much - which was a common complaint a couple years ago. It is something they have been working on recently and are gaining again in popularity. Some other firewalls you might want to check out are: Online-Armour, Outpost, and Comodo Firewall.
Anyone of these will work for most people and are user friendly, but some people may want to try out different firewalls to see which one suits them best. If you want to be able to find a lot of free support in online forums, then going with Zone Alarm would be your best bet. I'm trying out Comodo because they also have a suite of other free tools, such as a rescue disk, a chrome based secure browser, internet security suite, wi-fi security tools, a backup tool, and security tools for Linux, Mac and Android tablets.