Just as we have fences around our homes and locks on our doors to protect our well-being, our loved ones, and our valuables, protection is needed for computer systems. A firewall is necessary for building your cybersecurity package for your computer network and all the valuable, private information that it stores. A firewall acts as a barrier for your network by monitoring and controlling network traffic, thus creating a layer of protection to keep your systems and data safe.
In this article, we will share information about:
- How a firewall works
- Purposes of a firewall
- When should you use a firewall?
How a firewall works
A firewall analyzes incoming traffic and filters anything suspicious from entering your computer system. Just like how the government inspects all incoming products and people entering their territories, the firewall acts as the authority for packets of external data to be granted access or not into the computer’s entry points. In a more technical explanation, the firewall also permits certain IP addresses to travel to certain ports in a computer system.
Only trusted addresses or data that passes the test of the firewall can enter destination addresses within your system. The firewall is not done with filtering packets of data when it is granted entry to destination addresses because it continues to filter the data to what computer ports it should be granted entry to.
Think of products abroad that are checked by the bureau of customs. If they pass the requirements or standards, they are then granted access to enter the country. Afterward, these foreign products are distributed to certain ports but are not granted entry to other ports because of pre-established rules.
Purposes of a firewall
A firewall serves many purposes including:
- Proactive defense
It is important to proactively invest in security rather than doing so as a result of your computer network being compromised by ransomware, malware, etc. Computer systems connected to the internet are vulnerable due to the number of attacks that occur via cyberspace. These threats can be automated or targeted. If a threat targets your system without the first line of defense in place, it is likely your system will be compromised.
What a firewall does: A firewall is a proactive defense. As stated above, an efficient firewall system examines and analyzes incoming data before it grants access to destination addresses and vulnerable entry points.
A firewall protects you from ransomware, malware, unauthorized remote access, and unauthorized downloads.
- Monitoring incoming data
Packet filtering is a conversation between your system data and incoming data. Think of your system data as a butler who greets people at the door and the incoming data as guests who are granted or denied access to enter the home.
In packet filtering, small packets of data travel from one network to a destination when a request is sent to the internet. The server will also respond with their data to fulfill the request.
What a firewall does: A firewall will monitor incoming data to your system. The firewall analyzes its type, content, and other components/elements. It discards packets of data that contain unauthorized content before you see them.
A firewall protects you from unauthorized data containing malicious elements, access to websites that do not pass the screening for their content, suspicious downloads, etc.
- Ensures data privacy and protection
Third-party systems try to access your system for various reasons. Most of these reasons are to breach security, steal data, and even use processing power. The data that needs to be protected are personal data and passwords.
In a report by Fortinet, there was an increase of about 17% in recorded data breaches in 2021 compared to 2020. Do not let your data be part of the statistics – make sure to invest in your data security.
What a firewall does: A firewall performs immediate action as the first line of defense when faced with urgent threats trying to access your system.
A firewall protects you from data security breaches, hackers, and bots aiming to sabotage your system, data mining, processing power, etc.
When should you use a firewall?
You want to prevent unauthorized access
Whatever your purpose may be for data security, a firewall is an effective defense from hackers and bots that will wreak havoc on your system. A computer system that does not have a firewall is vulnerable to cyberattacks ranging from malware to processing power.
One of the more recent types of cyberattacks is for hackers to gain remote access to control your system. This is known as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). RDP is a means for a hacker to identify and exploit the vulnerable RDP sessions in your computer system that are connected to the Internet.
If you are overseeing confidential data or operation processing as part of your business or your job, then it is wise to install a correctly configured firewall. Personal data security for your system also needs an efficient firewall to prevent identity theft and lessen or eliminate compromising data on credit cards, insurance policies, etc.
You need to manage on-site or Work from Home (WFH) employees
If you are in business, you need to manage your employees when it comes to their computer habits as spending time on the internet and social media distracts them, affecting their productivity. Since a firewall has pre-established rules when it comes to admitting entry of data downloads, employees will not be able to access certain websites and downloads.
An effective firewall would block websites such as social media networks, YouTube, Netflix, gaming websites, etc. during work hours. You can ask your IT team to establish that the firewall blocks specific content and suspicious sites that are used for phishing, etc.
You want to audit incoming and outgoing data
Aside from being a defensive tool, firewalls also perform logging and audit functions especially if there is simultaneous incoming and outgoing data that may or may not be filtered accordingly with your employees or by yourself.
An effective firewall keeps a record of activities that become a report illustrating patterns and determines, from pre-established rules, that certain data be granted or denied access to your system. The report would present traffic along with state, port, and protocol with the pre-established rules.
It is essential to update your firewall to keep current with its monitoring, auditing, and defending of your computer system.
You want to regulate community guidelines
Other firewall providers do not merely offer protection services but also offer other features that you might find useful.
If you are hosting a website where people can freely express their opinions, then you need to set community guidelines so that people do not abuse the platform. Despite reminders of following courtesy guidelines in comments and feedback, people do not always adhere to them.
An effective firewall would quickly filter some words that you have set to be filtered and deleted. To keep your website regulated, it is not just effective to rely on your website manager to filter out the comments because they might miss some of them. A firewall would automatically detect these words or some sentences that it was set to do.
A firewall is your first line of defense
Just like in the military, in the bureau of customs, or even in your homes, an effective first line of defense is significant to mitigate attacks. Considerable damage in your system can be mitigated when you invest in firewalls. Do not risk your software security and protection.
If you want to learn more about our security software services, please reach out to Frank at [email protected] or call (847) 894-6304.