In some situations, you want to allow other computers to initiate a connection to your computer. For example, you might use Remote Desktop, play multiplayer games, or chat via an instant messaging program; these types of programs typically require inbound connections so that others can contact you.
The simplest way to enable a connection is to click Allow A Program Or Feature Through Windows Firewall, a link in the left pane of the main Windows Firewall window. The list of programs and features that initially appears in Allowed Programs, depends on which programs and services are installed on your computer; you can add others. In addition, program rules are created (but not enabled) when a program tries to set up an incoming connection. To allow connections for a program or service that’s already been defined, simply select its check box for each network location type on which you want to allow the program. (You’ll need to click Change Settings before you can make changes.)
In each of these cases, you enable a rule in Windows Firewall that pokes a small hole in the firewall and allows a certain type of traffic to pass through it. Each rule of this type increases your security risk to some degree, so you should clear the check box for all programs you don’t need. If you’re confident you won’t ever need a particular program, you can select it and then click Remove. (Many of the list items included with Windows don’t allow deletion, but as long as their check boxes are not selected, there’s no danger.)
The first time you run a program that tries to set up an incoming connection, Windows Firewall asks for your permission by displaying a dialog box similar to the one shown below. You can add the program to the allowed programs list by clicking Allow Access.
When such a dialog box appears, read it carefully:
● Is the program one that you knowingly installed and ran?
● Is it reasonable for the program to require acceptance of incoming connections?
● Are you currently using a network location where it’s okay for this program to accept incoming connections?
If the answer to any of these questions is no—or if you’re unsure—click Cancel. If you later find that a needed program isn’t working properly, you can open the allowed programs list in Windows Firewall and enable the rule.
Alternatively, you can set up the program from Allowed Programs without waiting for a Windows Security Alert dialog box to appear. Follow these steps:
1. Click Allow Another Program. The Add A Program dialog box appears.
2. In Add A Program, select the program for which you want to allow incoming connections. Or click Browse and navigate to the program’s executable file if it isn’t shown in the Programs list.
3. Click Network Location Types.
4. Select the network location types on which you want to allow the program, click OK, and click Add. (You can also select network locations in Allowed Programs after you add the program.)