Firewalls: What They Are & Why You Need Them

There are some phrases that you hear bandied about, and you think that you know what they are. You have a basic understanding and that suits your current needs. Firewall is one of these words. You will be familiar with it already, but do you really know what one is?

In its simplest terms, a firewall is a barrier between your desktop, mobile device or cell phone and the viruses that are prevalent on the internet. Data is exchanged between your chosen device and servers and routers that are in cyberspace – the firewall essentially monitors this data.

The data is served up in bite (or perhaps byte?) sized chunks called packets. The data in the packets are checked against the rules of the firewall. If all is well, the data can pass, and if there is anything suspicious, the packet is rejected.

Firewalls are typically basic features of most operating systems, but it is wise to take extra measures to ensure that you have the best protection for your systems – especially in a business scenario where a loss of data or breach of security can have serious implications.

Just as new technologies emerge, so too do the ways that cybercriminals evolve their methods for accessing your data, it’s important that you keep up to date with your digital security. It can feel like a minefield, but it is critical that you do to ensure a secure future.

There are two types of firewalls – network and host-based.

Network firewalls

Network firewalls are used by businesses that may have multiple computers, servers, and users. As well as protecting business-critical data over the complete system, they are a great way of giving businesses control over which websites or IP addresses can be accessed by employees from their computers, for example, Facebook.

However, rather than having to manually ensure that your cyber security is updated with latest versions to be attack-resistant, you can use a universal protection system such as a CASB that protects your network system with all of the latest software and technologies. This is the equivalent to your firewall’s rules – for checking the packets will always be current so that new attacks are isolated before harm is done.

Host-based

Host-based firewalls work similarly to network firewalls but are exclusive to the computer on which they are installed. Domestic computers typically have host-based firewalls as well as the hardware firewall (router), but they are also used in business when computers are not protected by a network firewall. Each computer must be manually checked so that latest security versions are installed.

A firewall is your first level of defense against cyber-attack and is best used alongside other security measures to ensure that you are covered in all bases. Firewalls are easy to install and offer protection from malicious software, trojans, viruses, pop-ups, cookies and more. They are an essential tool for your online security, and your customers’ online security – but you must ensure that definitions and versions are kept current – the majority of online security breaches are due to human error!

Image credit: Depositphotos

Uzair Amir

I am an Electronic Engineer, an Android Game Developer and a Tech writer. I am into music, snooker and my life motto is 'Do my best, so that I can't blame myself for anything.'