Windows XP firewall troubleshooting

Security expert Brien Posey provides troubleshooting tips for common Windows XP firewall configuration issues.

For several years now, the Windows firewall has been one of Windows' first lines of defense against network-based attacks. Whether you're installing a new application or networking a new system, chances are you'll need to configure your customer's Windows firewall. In this series, Microsoft MVP Brien Posey provides troubleshooting tips for common Windows XP firewall configuration issues. If your customer happens to be using Windows...

Vista, all is not lost. Although the tips detail steps for Windows XP, the basic concepts are relevant to Windows Vista as well.

PROBLEM #1: The firewall locks you out ------------------------------------------------------

Inability to configure the Windows XP firewall
Reconfiguring your customer's Windows XP firewall to allow access to specific resources seems simple enough -- until the firewall won't allow you to alter configuration settings. There are various conditions that can prevent you from reconfiguring the system's firewall. This tip explains how to troubleshoot the Windows XP firewall when you're locked out.

PROBLEM #2: You can't change the default settings --------------------------------------

Inability to override default settings
Sometimes when configuring a firewall, you may need to change default settings to custom settings. But Windows XP default firewall settings can take precedence over custom settings, even if you have followed the correct steps to configure them. Learn how to override and troubleshoot default XP firewall settings in this tip.

PROBLEM #3: Firewall is operating on improper configurations ----------------------

How to audit the Windows XP firewall
When configuring a client's firewall, you may find that there are hierarchical firewall settings that have higher priority than those that you implement. To override these settings, you can log the firewall data and audit the firewall for testing purposes. Learn how to audit a Windows XP firewall to ensure that it's operating according to the configurations you set.

PROBLEM #4: You don't know which port to open -----------------------------------------

Use Netstat to determine which ports to open on a Windows XP firewall
How often have you sold a piece of software, only to have to troubleshoot why it won't work with your client's Windows XP firewall? The answer may be as simple as opening a port on the firewall -- if you know which port to open. Learn how to use Netstat to identify which port an application uses.

PROBLEM #5: Rules are confirmed but not enabled ---------------------------------------

How to modify the scope of Windows XP and Windows Vista rules
When working with firewalls, your client might run into problems, even if active Windows XP firewall rules are confirmed. Learn how to modify the scope of a Windows XP firewall to enable these rules and make the firewall run to your specifications. Also, learn the major difference between Windows XP firewall rules and Windows Vista firewall rules.

This was first published in November 2007
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