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A personal or host-based firewall is software installed on a computer that controls communication to and from that computer when connected to a network or the internet. It provides a line of defense against someone who might try to access your computer remotely without your permission.
A personal firewall can help prevent unauthorized access to your computer by blocking unsolicited communications. Using a defined set of rules, the firewall determines whether to allow or block connections to your computer.
IS&T recommends using a software-based firewall when using Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems. As with any computer safety measure, always check with your local IT support provider prior to enabling a personal firewall.
- For more information on how to classify and secure your data, see Information Protection at MIT
Windows has built-in firewall that are turned on by default. These web pages provide further information about Windows Firewall:
- Windows 10: Windows Defender Security Center
- Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 : Windows Firewall with Advanced Protection
Mac OS X systems have built-in firewalls that are not turned on by default.
- The firewall configurations can be found in System Preferences > Security & Privacy.
Linux has a number of options for firewalls. iptables is the most common across various distributions. Most Linux distributions also include one or more front end tools to help manage your firewall rules (for instance, ufw - "uncomplicated firewall"). Consult your distro-specific documentation for configuration details.
For any questions about enabling or configuring personal firewalls, contact the IS&T Service Desk or your local IT support provider.