Firewalls are among the most popular and oldest network security solutions. Firewalls monitor and filter traffic from and to a device. They follow predefined security rules to block unwanted traffic and protect devices against cyberattacks. Firewalls can be free or inexpensive software for home use, or high-powered, specific purpose hardware that protects sensitive enterprise assets.
We answered common questions to help you understand firewalls. These questions will hopefully help you choose the right firewall solution to suit your needs.
1. Where did the term firewall come from?
In its original meaning, firewall meant “firewall”. It was originally used to refer to walls made of noncombustible materials, which were used to divide buildings into sections. The walls would prevent fires spreading from one area to the next.
The term can also be used today in other contexts, such as financial firewalls that are designed to prevent insider information from spreading. It can refer to hardware and software that are used to detect data leakage or prevent the spread of malware.
Learn how to become a security expert with SPOTO’s Cybersecurity Training
Start training2. What does a firewall do to protect data?
There are many types of metadata associated with data sent over the internet. Each packet is assigned a source IP address as well as a destination IP adress. This basically tells you where it’s coming and going. It is also directed towards one of many ports. Each port serves a different purpose.
Firewalls can inspect this metadata and either block it or allow it. Firewalls can be used to block traffic from external networks, block ports that are not being used, or block all traffic from any IP address other than those on a pre-approved list.
3. What is a firewall good at protecting against?
Firewall capabilities range from basic home firewalls to advanced NextGen firewalls that protect critical enterprise systems. All firewalls are capable of detecting certain types of known malicious traffic. They can block traffic from IP addresses that are associated with malware or phishing attacks, and block traffic to ports that aren’t being used by legitimate traffic. Advanced firewalls can inspect data packets and identify known malware signatures.
4. What can a firewall protect against, anyway?
Firewalls are not the only security solution that is perfect. Firewalls can only be as effective as the security rules that they are programmed to comply with. Basic firewalls can block traffic to and fro known malicious IP addresses, as well as blocking unused ports and protocols. However, if properly configured, they will also prevent many easy attacks. It will not stop a malicious or compromised insider from exporting sensitive information or blocking attacks from seemingly legitimate IP addresses.
Advanced firewalls can also inspect data traffic and look for known attack indicators. However, they are unable prevent new attacks. Hackers are well-versed in firewalls and actively seek to circumvent them. Firewall users must ensure that their firewalls are properly configured and kept up to date to keep up with new threats.
5. What is the difference between software and hardware firewalls?
Hardware firewalls are physical devices that are controlled by a proprietary operating software. They are able to handle larger traffic volumes without affecting the performance of servers or end-user devices. Although they are more costly and more difficult than software firewalls, they can protect large networks with high traffic volumes. Additional security is provided by the proprietary operating systems. They are not susceptible to attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in common operating system, such as IE.