Firewalls are generally used to prevent unwanted network traffic from the outside world (such as someone trying to find a security vulnerability in your computer); additionally, they may be used to limit the scope of communications allowed outgoing from your computer. Running firewall software is a critical component of keeping your computer secure.
Depending on the operating system you are running, the usage and complexity of a firewall will vary. For Windows, IT Services recommends using the Windows XP built-in firewall; for the Macintosh, we recommend using the Mac built-in firewall; Unix/Linux systems also have built-in firewalls: for additional information, see below.
- Windows - documentation on the Windows XP built in firewall.
- Macintosh - introduction to Mac OS X's built in firewall.
- Unix/Linux - information about firewall solutions
Firewalls are a new topic for most users; unfortunately, running them successfully often demands a basic understanding of how information is moved from one computer to another.