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Enterprise Network Firewalls

Overview

A network firewall is a device that acts as a barrier to keep destructive forces away from computers on a network behind the firewall. A network firewall is similar to a physical firewall that keeps a fire from spreading from one area to the next.

Firewalls can help protect against a wide range of security threats, including unauthorized remote logins, denial of service attacks, and viruses and worms that are spread over a network. Enterprise Network Firewalls are managed by Computing Services and Systems Development and help protect sensitive information, research data, and support critical University operations. 

Departments may request changes to firewall rules in order to provide access to departmental resources or new systems. All network ports at the Pittsburgh campus and the four regional campuses are protected behind Enterprise Network Firewalls.

 Firewalls can prevent the following security threats:

  • Remote login by unauthorized users (such as hackers).
  • Backdoors, which are programs that establish features that allow for hidden access.
  • Denial of service, where a network is inundated with generated network traffic, causing computers on the network to slow down or crash.
  • Network-spread viruses and worms, which are small programs that can spread over the network to other unprotected computers.

Firewalls, however, cannot prevent the following security threats:

  • Viruses, worms and Trojan horses from e-mails and downloaded files
  • Spam
  • Spyware

The Enterprise Security Controls policy requires all University departments and units to use Enterprise Network Firewalls.  Other security controls may be needed to complement the protection a network firewall provides.  For example, individuals are also encouraged to enable the Microsoft Windows Personal Firewall on their PCs. While firewalls can stop network-spreading viruses, anti-virus software should also still be installed on computers. 

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