Getting McAfee to work behind an ISA 2004 Firewall

It has been a long time since I actively worked with Microsoft’s ISA Firewall so it took me some time to fix this problem. periodically offers a 3 computer version of McAfee at a very cheap price. Since I am somewhat ambivalent about the merits of one virus checking software over another, I bought a copy to replace a TrendMicro version up for renewal. The installation did not flag any errors or warnings so it took about a week before I noticed that the patterns had not updated. Yesterday I decided to fix the problem and write down for posterity how I accomplished it.

Unlike many firewalls Microsoft’s firewall typically restricts anonymous access. This typically is not a problem for most applications that run on Windows computers since the users are logged into the Active Domain. Occasionally there are applications that fail to connect to the internet despite the user being logged into the domain. Most of the time you need to open some non-standard ports to fix the problem. In this case McAfee is using standard HTTP and HTTPS ports and still failing to connect.

The solution is to create an anonymous access rule to the McAfee update site and to configure the client to not use the ISA Firewall client for these sites. One way to accomplish this  is to configure Internet explorer(Tools-Internet Options-Connections-Lan settings-Advanced) to not use the proxy. This is the way I got McAfee to update. Another way is to configure the properties for the internal network in ISA to use direct access for these sites. You can configure a GPO, too.