A firewall basically transfers traffic between computer networks. Incoming information from the Internet to a user's computer is filtered through a firewall which can allow or deny the data entry to the network based on its settings.
Not every web site is safe or trustworthy--some contain viruses, worms and other malware which can harm the network and its users. Therefore, the use of a firewall is essential in maintaining the security and proper functioning of a network. If there's a problem, a firewall can help prevent the spread of malware across other network users' computers.
Windows XP and Mac OS X come with a firewall already installed and switched on by default. Read the articles below for more information on the firewalls and how to adjust their settings.
Windows 7 users:
Windows XP users:
Mac OS X users:
Department Network Administrators - Learn more about the University IT Offering for Departmental Firewalls