September 2005 Reader Challenge

August 2005 Reader Challenge Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our August 2005 Reader Challenge. Frederick Gorman of California, wins a copy of "Home Networking for Dummies 3rd Edition" (Wiley Publishing), and Samuel Gold of Florida, wins a copy of "Google Hacks Second Edition" (O'Reilly Publishing).

September 2005 Reader Challenge

Solve this month's Windows Client challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by September 14, 2005. You must include your full name, and street mailing address (without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win, so your answer is eliminated, even if it's correct).

I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I'm a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for a receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem here on September 15, 2005.

Incidentally, many IT directors use the Reader Challenge as a trivia game in their IT departments and have written to ask me for old Reader Challenge questions (this column has appeared in print and in UPDATE newsletters for many years). I don't keep them, but you can search the site, which archives columns.

The Challenge

I ran into a former client, an IT professional who retired, but does some consulting for nonprofit organizations. He told me he'd been helping one group that had received a grant for computers, and he was asked to meet with the group's board of directors to explain the network installation he proposed. What surprised him was that instead of questions about software applications, the meeting focused almost exclusively on network security. During the meeting, the board members got into a dispute about the type of firewall protection he should install. The relative merits (and cost) of router firewalls, built-in OS firewalls (the network has a Windows Server 2003 server and Windows XP workstations), and software application firewalls, were hotly debated. He said that most of the debaters weren't well informed, and he had to spend time explaining the way various types of firewalls work. This challenge tests whether you could accurately explain the concept he had to clarify.

Question: What is the primary difference between a software firewall application, and the other two firewall types involved in the debate (router-based hardware firewalls and the built-in firewalls in Windows 2003 and XP)? Hint: The correct answer is short and uncomplicated and doesn't require technical expertise about firewall technology.

The Answer

Only software firewall applications monitor both incoming and outgoing packets. Hardware firewalls and the firewall built into Windows monitor only incoming traffic.

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