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How should a desktop firewall policy manage open ports?

Having a standard desktop firewall policy is an important security measure. In this expert Q&A, network security pro Mike Chapple reviews where to begin when enacting these restrictions.

Do you think that there should be a common desktop firewall policy? If so, what should it be? Should a policy incorporate a port-based firewall that blocks all inbound ports?
Yes, organizations should definitely have a standard desktop firewall policy. A good starting point is to employ the "Deny all" setting. The Windows Firewall equivalent is "Don't allow exceptions". Unless there are services on the desktop that must be accessed by other systems, there is no need to have any ports open on the standard productivity workstation. And, if you do have these services (remote administration tools, for example), allow only the bare minimum number of ports and expose them to the smallest possible subnet.

More information:

  • Visit our Firewall Learning Guide.
  • Find out who should manage the firewall.
  • This was last published in December 2006

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