McAfee Help

McAfee® Personal Firewall

McAfee Personal Firewall software serves as a defensive barrier between the Internet and your PC, allowing you to control what comes in and what goes out. The functionality of Personal Firewall is tailored to monitor Internet traffic for suspicious activity, and to provide effective protection without disrupting your activities.

This protection feature might not be turned on, installed, or included in your McAfee software. To learn about the protection features included in your McAfee suite, read Understanding your protection features.
Personal Firewall features
Starting Personal Firewall
From the moment you install Personal Firewall, it begins protecting your PC from intrusion and unwanted network traffic. Smart Advice is automatically enabled, helping you handle alerts, and you can manage access for known and unknown programs. By default, Personal Firewall is set to allow outgoing access for programs. If Personal Firewall is not installed, the Home Page shows the status of any other firewall protection you might have. If no other firewall is installed, Home Page shows the status of your Windows firewall.
Working with alerts
Alerts appear in the bottom right corner of your screen to let you know when security events occur on your PC. An alert provides information about an event, as well as recommendations and options for resolving security problems.
Setting up Personal Firewall protection
Personal Firewall lets you choose how to manage your security, including how to respond to threats and alerts. Personal Firewall offers Smart Advice on granting Internet access to programs in the form of alerts. You can set up Personal Firewall to apply those recommendations automatically, or to let you view them first, before deciding whether to apply them. Security levels help you customize your protection to suit your needs. When you install Personal Firewall, by default it allows programs on your PC to send information over the Internet. However, Personal Firewall offers other security levels, so that you can be more or less restrictive when granting Internet access.
Managing Personal Firewall security levels
Part of choosing the security level that works best for you is deciding how you want to manage and respond to alerts. Alerts appear when Personal Firewall detects intrusion attempts, unwanted network traffic, or suspicious activity from incoming or outgoing Internet connections. By default, the security level is set to Outgoing Access, which allows programs only to send information.
Setting up Smart Advice for alerts
You can set up Personal Firewall to display Smart Advice whenever programs try to access the Internet, and you can set it up to be applied automatically or manually. Personal Firewall provides Smart Advice only for programs that are listed in the HackerWatch database.
Customizing Personal Firewall security
Personal Firewall allows you to control program activities that can compromise the security of your PC. You can control how your PC handles programs trying to access the Internet on startup, how it communicates with other PCs, how it handles intrusion attempts from hackers, and even how it reports on your security vulnerabilities.
Locking and restoring Personal Firewall
You can lock Personal Firewall instantly with the Lockdown security level, which blocks all incoming and outgoing traffic between your PC and the Internet. Lockdown has the same effect as physically disconnecting the network cables on your PC: it blocks all incoming and outgoing network connections, including access to websites, email, and security updates. You might need to do this if you suspect that a program on your PC is sending or receiving malicious data and you want to block open ports to protect other PCs on your network. You can restore Internet access to your PC by selecting any of the other security levels (Full Access, Outgoing Access, Monitored Access, and Stealth).
Managing programs and their permissions
Many programs attempt to gain incoming and outgoing access to the Internet. You need to decide which programs you want to allow that access.
Managing PC connections
You can configure Personal Firewall to manage specific remote connections to your PC.
About system services
To work properly, certain programs (including web servers and file-sharing server programs) must accept unsolicited connections from other PCs through designated system service ports. Typically, Personal Firewall closes these system service ports because they make your PC more vulnerable to attacks. To accept connections from remote PCs, however, the system service ports must be open.
Setting up system service ports
You can set up system service ports to allow or block remote network access to a service on your PC. These ports can be opened or closed for PCs that are listed as Home, Work, or Public in your Connections list.
Event Logging
Personal Firewall allows you to enable or disable event logging. When it's enabled, you can also specify which event types to log. With event logging, you can view recent incoming events, outgoing events, and intrusion events. Personal Firewall records an event each time an Internet connection attempt is blocked.
Viewing HackerWatch statistics
Personal Firewall uses McAfee's security website, HackerWatch to provide up-to-date information about programs and global Internet activity. HackerWatch is integrated with Personal Firewall, allowing individual users to pool information through automatic event submission, which helps prevent hacking attempts, intrusion, and unwanted traffic. By combining this data, automated tools scan for offending PCs, which can be identified by the Internet traffic they produce. When an offending PC is identified, its Internet service provider is notified so that they can respond by removing access.
Monitoring Internet traffic
Because many Internet service providers have limitations on the bandwidth you can use per month, you might want to find out which of your programs use the most bandwidth on your network.
Learning about Internet security
Personal Firewall uses McAfee's security website, HackerWatch, to provide up-to-date information about programs and global Internet activity. HackerWatch also provides an HTML tutorial about Personal Firewall.