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How dangerous is it to turn router firewall off?


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#1
stearmandriver

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Ok, I'm kinda computer literate on many fronts, but I am clueless about networking. Here's the scenario:

For a while, I've been using Windows Live Messenger to video chat with my family while on the road for work. It's been great for the kids AND me; keeps us all sane. Until recently, my home desktop was connected to the internet via an ethernet cable connection to a DSL modem. No firewall in the modem, though I've always used ZoneAlarm Pro on the computer.

I've recently set up a new modem/wireless router to eliminate the DSL wire running across the room. Now, my desktop connects wirelessly to a 2Wire router. I'm NOT really running a home network. My desktop and laptop both use the wireless internet, but they aren't networked to each other.

You can see where this is going. Since changing to the router, Live Messenger video chat no longer works well. Video is freezing, audio hardly exists. It's so bad it's pointless to try and use. The regular internet works great however, with faster speeds than before.

So... I assume this has something to do with the firewall built into the 2Wire router. I've tried turning off firewall protection for the desktop (DMZplus mode, whatever that means) and when I use hotel wifi on the laptop, video chat works well again.

So... how necessary is this router firewall? If I just leave it in DMZ mode but continue to run ZoneAlarm Pro on my desktop, are there any massive security risks with this? More to the point, is this setup any different or more dangerous than my old configuration of using the wired modem (with no firewall) and ZoneAlarm Pro?

Thanks for any input...
Joe
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#2
fr33zypop

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Ok first there are a few things that might be causing this, first off its not a firewall wouldn't be cause it to freeze of be choppy. A firewall would make it work or not work at all. With installing a wireless connection there are a few things to consider. When you have more the one computer on the connection its going to slow you connection down a bit and maybe enough to slow it down like what your seeing. Browsing you say is fast and might be, but the transfer rates of messeger requires a bigger pipe then just the internet browser uses. So when you have both computer hooked up to the internet and you are using the desktop to use messeger its going to be a little slower depending on how much your upload and download speeds are from you ISP. If its not a lot you might need to upgrade internet services speeds.
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#3
stearmandriver

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That's what I thought too - that a firewall problem would mean it either worked or it didn't, no in between.

But in reality, this problem IS caused by the firewall, or is at least related to it, because the tests I've made isolate the firewall as the causal factor.

When I connect the laptop and desktop both on my home internet network - same side of the firewall - video conferencing works fine.

When I connect my laptop to my neighbor's network, and then video call my desktop - through the router firewall - video conferencing does not work.

When I leave things connected that way, and just DMZ my desktop - which as I understand it just turns off the firewall - video conferencing works fine again.

So, it's not a bandwith problem. It does seem to be directly related to the router firewall.

So... if I'm still running ZoneAlarm pro, is just leaving the router firewall off all that dangerous?

Thanks...
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#4
fr33zypop

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Yes and no, leaving the roouter firewall off mean that people could if they wanted to gain access to your network. Though keeping the Zone Alarm enabled will keep your computers safe. It should be ok because its the same setup in a way you had it before you installed the router.
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#5
stearmandriver

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That's kinda what I thought... that it was the same setup as before.

Thanks for the confirmation - like I said, I'm clueless about networking. Needed a second opinion. :)

Joe
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