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Using Firewalls at UIC
Using Personal Computer Firewalls at UIC Installing Integrity Desktop Using Integrity Desktop Using Mac OS X Built-In Firewall

Protecting Your Personal Computer Using a Firewall

 

Why You Need a Firewall:

It's easy to think that no one could possibly be interested in your PC or Mac, but that's not the case. Having a fast Internet connection that's "always on" when you want to surf the Web is great for you, but it's also great for hackers from around the world who have nothing better to do than sweep through thousands of random IP addresses looking for machines that they can exploit.

Do you connect to the Internet with an always-on connection? If you do, you should use a firewall to protect your computer -- a network protection tool that guards against and reports intrusions on your computer from the outside, or unauthorized communications from the inside -- and you must keep it running at all times. In fact, you need to consider securing your home computers even if you are only connected some of the time. You are vulnerable whenever you're connected.

To get an idea of what the firewall will do for you, run

Symantec's Internet Security Check

before and after you install/turn on a firewall. Running this vulnerability check might be just the thing you need to convince you to run a firewall. This service checks the security of your computer's connection to the Internet by sending it various connection requests. The info on this service says that it requires Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape 4.5, or Safari 1.0 on a Mac, but it also works just fine under Firefox 2.

Note that firewalls cannot protect you from viruses and worms. You need antivirus software for that; the ACCC provides free antivirus software to the entire UIC community.

Where to Get a Firewall

There are hardware and software firewalls. If you have a home network, the router you use to connect the network to the Internet can act as a firewall for all of the machines on the network. (It is a good idea to also run a software firewall on the individual machines; a machine on your network could get infected from an outside connection or a CD or floppy disk.)

Windows and Mac Built-In Firewalls

Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista have built-in software firewalls that are turned on by default. Mac OS X also has a built-in software firewall. In many cases, they are enough. Though it's my experience with the Windows XP2 firewall that it's difficult to work with. I prefer Zone Labs free ZoneAlarm or our Zone Labs Integrity Desktop to it because it's much easier to use. But I have a somewhat complicated network setup on my Windows machine; the built-in Windows firewall might be just fine for you. I do use the built-in Mac firewall on my Macs; it's easy to set up and I'm happy with it.

In addition to the built-in firewalls, there are commercial or free- or shareware firewalls for all operating systems. Some of the most common are described in

Zone Labs Integrity Desktop

The ACCC is now able to offer UIC employees Zone Labs Integrity Desktop personal firewall version 5.1 for Windows platforms. Through our licensing agreement, the software is available for campus machines only, and can be downloaded only to computers connected to the UIC campus network.

The information on Integrity Desktop starts at Installing Zone Labs Integrity Desktop.
 
 
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2008-1-31  CSO
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