How do I decide whether to block or allow a program?
Windows Live OneCare Firewall automatically blocks programs that aren't recognized by the Firewall policy from accessing the Internet. When this happens, Windows Live OneCare displays a Firewall Alert dialog box, which tells you that "Firewall has blocked a program from accessing the Internet". You can review the steps below to help you make an informed decision about whether to keep blocking the program or allow it in the future.
Step 1: Learn what the program is and what it does
If you don't know what the program is, type its file name and publisher into an Internet search engine to find out. Make sure that it's a program you need, and that it is a program you chose to install.
If the program has a verified digital signature, chances are better that it is legitimate and that the program will behave the way that you expect it to. Be careful though—it's possible for programs to imitate other programs.
Step 2: Find out why the program needs to go online
Some programs (such as chat programs) must connect to the Internet to work at all, while other programs can function in an offline mode. Knowing which activities the program performs on the Internet can help you make a decision. This information will usually be contained in the program's documentation.
Step 3: Ask an expert
Consult user groups, industry analysts, or other sources about the experiences other users are reporting with the program.
Step 4: When in doubt, block the program
When you choose to block a program, the Windows Live OneCare Firewall adds it to your Program List and notifies you each time the program tries to access the Internet. If you decide later on to allow the program, you can unblock it by editing the Firewall Program List in your Windows Live OneCare settings. See Related Topics for details.
- If you see a Windows dialog box asking you if you installed new software recently, and you know that you haven't installed any new programs, this can be a sign of spyware or a virus. In this case, you should block the program.
- Before you even purchase software, you should make sure that the programs you buy are produced by a reputable software vendor, and you should learn as much as you can about the program before you buy it. Be suspicious of free software that you download from the Internet, unless this software is provided by a vendor you know and trust. If you install such software, try to research the software as much as you can before you install it. This research might include directly contacting the program's author, or locating other users to find out what their experience has been.