How to Enable Operating System Firewalls

Whenever your computer is connected to the Internet, chances are that someone or something is probing and scanning it for vulnerabilities that could allow a virus, worm, or hacker to cause damage or take control. By enabling the firewall built into your computer's operating system, you can block this unwanted network traffic and protect your computer from attack. Enabling the firewall is every bit as important as using antivirus/malware protection.

Note 1: Some antivirus/malware protection products are also sold in "suite" form, in which they are bundled with other technologies such as a "personal" firewall, anti-spyware, identity theft protection, etc. Usually, these products will disable the operating system firewall and use their built-in firewall instead; this allows them to provide "active" protection against threats. Some products will give you a choice about which firewall to use and some won't, but generally it's better to use the suite's built-in firewall rather than the operating system firewall, if given a choice.

Note 2: Most home wireless routers include a network firewall. Although these firewalls offer valuable protection and should be turned on whenever possible, they do not provide the same protection that the operating system firewall (or a malware protection suite's firewall) provides. Even if you have a firewall enabled on your wireless router, you should still enable your operating system's firewall.

Enabling the Firewall

Microsoft and Apple both provide built-in firewalls. To enable the firewall, follow the directions below for your specific operating system.

Windows 7

  1. From the Start menu, select Control Panel. In the "Control Panel" window, select System and Security and then select Windows Firewall.
  2. In the panel on the left, select Turn Windows Firewall on or off.
  3. Check the Turn on Windows Firewall check boxes under all available network location settings.

Windows Vista

  1. From the Start menu, select Control Panel. In the "Control Panel" window, select Security and then select Windows Firewall.
  2. In the panel on the left, select Turn Windows Firewall on and off.
  3. If the firewall is off, click Change Settings and check the On (recommended) check box.

Windows XP

  1. From the Start menu, select Control Panel. In the "Control Panel" window, select Security Center and then select Windows Firewall.
  2. Under "Manage security settings for", click Windows Firewall.
  3. In the window that opens, select the "General" tab. Check the On (recommended) check box.
  4. Click OK.

Mac OS X

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences and then select Security. The "Security" window opens.
  2. If necessary, click the lock icon to unlock it, and then type an administrator name and password.
  3. Click Firewall and then click Start.

Applicability

The New School recommends that all computers, whether owned by the university or by individual faculty, staff, and students, be configured to run with the built-in firewall (or the firewall provided as part of a malware protection suite) enabled.

Responsibility

The Office of Information Technology is responsible for ensuring that the built-in firewall is enabled on all university-owned computers. The New School Information Resource Acceptable Use Policy prohibits any attempt to alter or disable this configuration.

Individual faculty, staff, and students are responsible for ensuring that the built-in firewall is enabled on their personally-owned computers.

References