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A Brief Review of Firewalls and Their Importance

Let’s take a closer look at what a firewall is, and how they help to protect your assets.

Defining Firewall

A firewall is something that helps keep threats and malicious entities from coming into your computer or computer network from the Internet by monitoring and controlling traffic, both incoming and outgoing.

Named for the real-world barrier that is used to impede the spread of fire throughout a structure, a firewall prevents these threats from spreading in a similar fashion. These solutions are available as both hardware-based and software-based systems, and different types are available that focus on different needs and functionalities.

How a Firewall Works

The firewall uses a barrier of code to ensure that there is some separation between your computer or network infrastructure and the larger Internet, examining data packets as they arrive and deeming whether or not they can continue.

The Difference Between Software-Based and Hardware-Based

Other than the obvious difference in how they are deployed, there are some differences between software and hardware firewalls that are important to address.

Hardware Firewalls

A hardware firewall is a device that integrates into a network to protect it, and is often built into broadband routers. These firewalls focus primarily on inbound data and information, comparing traffic to preset conditions to deem whether or not that data will be allowed in.

While this variety is very common in homes and small businesses – primarily due to its simplicity and its ability to connect to multiple devices – it does have one considerable shortcoming. Hardware firewalls only analyze incoming data. As a result, the firewall won’t detect certain, considerable issues, like if a computer has been infected and assimilated into a botnet.

Software Firewalls

While they serve effectively the same purpose, software firewalls have more or less opposite strengths and weaknesses. As a software firewall is installed on an individual endpoint, it only serves to protect that one device. However, it also monitors all traffic (incoming and outgoing), enabling it to identify and stop more threats.

One of the biggest benefits of a software-based firewall is that it can be customized to each user, as it only covers that user’s workstation. So, if one of your users needs more forgiving permissions than the rest of your team, you can allow for them by using a software-based firewall.

Why Not Use Both?

To maximize your firewall-based protections, we recommend that you use both hardware-based and software-based firewalls. This assists your security twice as much, without causing any interference between the two. Combining their protections, along with implementing other key security features and tools, can help keep your business optimally secure.

In fact, modern Windows operating systems come with a built-in firewall. While this protection doesn’t stop everything, when combined with managed security on the rest of your network, it serves an important part of your overall security.

We can help. To learn more about the security and productivity assistance we can offer, reach out to SRS Networks at (831) 758-3636.

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