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A Park Bench, An Office, or A House

How much security you need in Vista and Windows Server 2008 depends on where you're connecting. Choose carefully.

With Vista, every time you connect the OS to a new network off your domain, you're prompted with a dialog box asking you to choose the type of network. Three options are provided: A park bench, a little office building, and a house.

These three icons are used by Vista along with the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security to identify the level of firewall involvement that should occur with the new network. As is obvious, when we're connecting to "park bench" networks -- the most risky and insecure ones like coffee shops and airports -- we want the firewall to turn up full bore. In those networks we want the greatest level of protection against malevolent code injecting itself into our machine.

But what about the other two icons? With Windows Server 2008 and Vista, we get three profiles we can use to configure our firewall. The Domain profile is used when we're connected to our Windows domain and the Public profile is designed for those high-risk networks discussed above. But the Private profile has a few oddities in its design.

Ostensibly created for semi-trusted networks like business partners and home networks, the Private profile is designed to give us a little more flexibility than when attached to wild-and-wooly Public networks. What's odd about Vista's three little icons is that two of them -- the office building and the house -- both point to the Private profile. There's functionally no difference between clicking one or the other.

As to the Domain profile, there is no little icon to be selected for this network. When a Vista instance determines that it's on the same network as a domain controller, this profile is automatically selected. The user is never prompted to choose this network.

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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