Windows Tip Sheet
Too Many Firewalls
Adding Windows OneCare Live on top of Windows Firewall can build a barrier even the user can't get past.
A friend of mine was complaining about work the other night, and we got into
this story about users who install software they shouldn't. It appears
my friend was trying to solve a problem for the user (who works for the same
company as my friend) who "suddenly" couldn't use half the
applications on his WinXP SP2 computer. "Oh, he messed up the Windows
Firewall," I said, anticipating where this was going. "I wish!"
my friend said. In fact, when checking the Windows Firewall, he'd found
both the "On" and "Off" radio buttons grayed out, with
the "Off" button selected. All of the Firewall's exceptions
appeared to be in order, but things were definitely not working correctly.
That's when he noticed a curious little icon in the notification area. It was
green, and shaped like a little 3-D ball with the number "1" on it.
That's right, Windows OneCare Live (available at www.live.com),
Microsoft's new firewall/antivirus/antispam/backup/everything software. Unfortunately,
OneCare isn't intended for a corporate installation -- Microsoft has another,
parallel product intended for companies, which includes centralized management
via Group Policy. This user had gone out and installed -- and even paid for
-- OneCare on their own.
OneCare overrides the Windows Firewall and provides its own UI for Firewall
actions. Unlike the Windows Firewall, OneCare, by default, blocks outgoing
traffic, as well. Of course, when it sees a new application trying to talk to
the Internet, it asks what you want to do -- and the user, for some reason,
selected "block" every time. I guess the message about malware is
getting through, which is nice, but it effectively turned his computer into
a disconnected doorstop. Uninstalling OneCare -- which my friend's company officially
does not allow on their corporate machines -- put Windows Firewall back in charge
and my friend was able to clean things up and get the machine working correctly
Don Jones is a multiple-year recipient of Microsoft’s MVP Award, and is an Author/Evangelist for video training company Pluralsight. Don is also a co-founder and President of PowerShell.org, a community dedicated to Microsoft’s Windows PowerShell technology. Don has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry, and specializes in the Microsoft business technology platform. He’s the author of more than 50 technology books, an accomplished IT journalist, and a sought-after speaker and instructor at conferences worldwide. Reach Don on Twitter at @concentratedDon, or on Facebook at Facebook.com/ConcentratedDon.