What is a firewall? Why might I need one?
Everyone has heard of them, right?
Do you know what they actually do though? and just to confirm there is no actual fire involved either.
The simplest explanation is that it is a tool to prevent malicious traffic from getting onto your network from outside (ie the internet)
There are 3 types of firewall – software, stateless hardware and stateful hardware
These are present on operating systems like Windows. Many anti virus suites include them too.
Blocking systems and applications can be done through the configuration. The biggest flaw is that they are on a per machine basis, so not really useful on a network full of computers because there is no central policy for the business.
Stateless hardware firewall
These devices are failry basic in their approach – simply blocking any ports to traffic from the outside world. This opens certain “ports” to allow things like web and email traffic through. The downside to these devices is that the ports that are open, are completely open.
Your network is then open to all traffic that comes via those ports.
Stateful hardware firewall
Devices that provide multi-layer protection at the point of connection to the Internet, scanning each packet of data, blocking applications from accessing the web and many other features.
For a business it is essential to implement a good stateful firewall – they not only protect your network from external risks but also allow control over what your users can do from inside your network…for example web content filtering and application control can stop your staff spending all day on social media, streaming video or downloading from illegal sites – improving productivity and removing risk of liability.
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