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MSU-Northern students, faculty and staff - Use the ITS Help Desk as the first point of contact for your technology problems, questions & services!

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Last Updated: 19-Jun-2009
Information Technology Services
Information Technology Services: Firewalls

Firewalls Help Prevent Break-ins

A firewall helps to keep your computer more secure. It restricts information that comes to your computer from other computers, giving you more control over the data on your computer and providing a line of defense against people or programs (including viruses and worms) that try to connect to your computer without invitation.

When someone on the Internet or a network tries to connect to your computer, we call that attempt an "unsolicited request." When your computer gets an unsolicited request, Windows Firewall blocks the connection. If you run a program such as an instant messaging program or a multiplayer network game that needs to receive information from the Internet or a network, the firewall asks if you want to block or unblock (allow) the connection. If you choose to unblock the connection, Windows Firewall creates an exception so that the firewall won't bother you when that program needs to receive information in the future.

Windows XP Firewall at Northern

Computers at Northern are configured to run the personal firewall that is included with Windows XP. You should NOT turn it off. The XP firewall will block inbound attacks but will not control network access to programs running on your computer.

What Windows Firewall does and does not do

The Windows Firewall does:

  • Help block computer viruses and worms from reaching your computer.
  • Ask for your permission to block or unblock certain connection requests.
  • If you want, it will create a security log that records successful and unsuccessful attempts to connect to your computer. This can be useful as a troubleshooting tool.

The Windows Firewall does NOT:

  • Detect or disable computer viruses and worms if they are already on your computer. For that reason, you should also install antivirus software and keep it updated to help prevent viruses, worms, and other security threats from damaging your computer or using your computer to spread viruses to others.
  • Stop you from opening e-mail with dangerous attachments. Don't open e-mail attachments from senders that you don't know. Even if you know and trust the source of the e-mail you should still be cautious. If someone you know sends you an e-mail attachment, look at the subject line carefully before opening it. If the subject line is gibberish or does not make any sense to you, check with the sender before opening it.
  • Block spam or unsolicited e-mail from appearing in your inbox. However, some e-mail programs can help you do this. Check the documentation for your e-mail program to learn more.]

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It's up to you.
Take these steps to help ensure the security of your identity and your computer.

Security Updates
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Firewalls
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Check XP Firewall Settings
Check your XP firewall settings:
1. Click Start --> Settings --> Control Panel.
2. Double click Windows Firewall

You'll see the status of your firewall with one of these icons selected:

XP Firewall on On (recommended)
XP Firewall off Off (not recommended)
To enable security logging options
You must be logged on to the computer as an administrator to complete this procedure.
1. Open Windows Firewall (see above).
2. On the Advanced tab, under Security Logging, click Settings.
3. Choose one of the following options:
   • To enable logging of unsuccessful inbound connection attempts, select the Log dropped packets check box.
   • To enable logging of successful outbound connections, select the Log successful connections check box.
Report Security Incidents
Report stolen devices (laptops, PDAs, etc) and suspected computer break-ins to ITS immediately. The sooner we know about an incident, the sooner we can respond, potentially limiting any damage.
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