Software firewalls are applications that block certain types of network traffic. They can help protect your computer from threats on the Internet and, should your computer become infected, help protect others on the Internet from your computer. Software firewalls add to security provided by other desktop security practices such as using anti-virus software and applying security updates and patches.
While the U of S provides network-level security for the campus community, ICT recommends using a software firewall to provide added security to your computer. If your computer is managed by IT support personnel, please consult with them to see if your computer is already protected by a software firewall as part of the support service they provide.
If you do not already have a software firewall, ICT recommends that you use the built-in software firewall for your operating system (if available). If you are already using a different firewall product, it is not necessary to enable the built-in firewall for your operating system.
If you have Windows XP or Vista, the built-in firewalls are enabled by default.
If you have Windows 2000, you are encouraged to upgrade your operating system to XP. If it is not possible to upgrade your operating system, ICT recommends using a commercial software firewall product as Windows 2000 does not have a built-in firewall. Commercial products are listed below.
If you have Macintosh OS X, the built-in firewall is disabled by default.
If you have an older Macintosh operating system, you are encouraged to upgrade your operating system to OSX. If it is not possible to upgrade your operating system, ICT recommends using a commercial firewall product, such as Norton Personal Firewall 3.0 for Macintosh or Sustainable Softworks IPNetSentry, as older Macintosh operating systems do not have a built-in firewall.
If you have the Red Hat Linux operating system, the built-in firewall is enabled by default.
If your computer does not have a built-in firewall, or if you have additional needs that are not addressed by your operating systems built-in firewall, there are many alternatives available. Commercial software firewall products are available for purchase and may include other features such as anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-phishing.
Products from the following vendors are common on campus and are often included with new computers as limited-time trial software:
Commercial products often require an ongoing subscriptions fee to keep the software active and up-to-date.
For assistance with configuring your built-in firewall, contact your local IT support personnel or contact the ICT Help Desk. Support for commercial software firewall products is provided by vendors.