What is a firewall


A simple concept has taken on a whole new meaning in this computerized era.

As the term suggests, a firewall has always been a wall meant to prevent fire from spreading and to protect important areas within a structure.

Today’s firewall technology serves much the same purpose – to protect business computer networks from threats inside and out.

Think of a firewall as a moat that shields against from those that want to storm the castle that is your business.

There are two main types of firewalls: hardware and software.

A hardware firewall serves as a first line of defense against attacks coming from the outside world, and is either installed in a broadband router or as a separate device.  It employs a technique called packet filtering.  The data being sent to your firewall is in the form of multiple packets, similar to an addressed envelopes with letters inside.  The firewall looks at the header of a packet (the address on our envelope) to figure out its source and destination addresses. By using  a set of predetermined criteria, the packet is either allowed to pass or thrown out.

The downside of a hardware firewall is that it’s built to keep the bad stuff out. Generally, it treats traffic coming out from the interior network as benign, which isn’t always the case. Viruses or malware which has gotten inside the network can attach itself to outgoing traffic and go on to infect destination computers, something that’s bad for business.

A software firewall is installed on a user’s machine and can analyze a program that is trying to access the Internet and either allow or block its ability to send and receive data. If the firewall isn’t sure about the program’s nature, the user gets prompted to confirm before the traffic is allowed to pass.

While a software firewall is easier to tailor for individual machines, it’s also the more expensive option, as it requires more configuration on each computer in your network.

The next factor to consider is the number of users in your network and the importance of your data. That will help you to decide whether you need a Small Office Home Office or the ”larger” enterprise-class firewall.  Each variation has different abilities as how far into the packet it goes to determine whether the information is benign or potentially hazardous to your machines or network, or how configurable the settings are for letting certain items through the firewall to your internal machines

The proper combination of hardware and software firewalls will give your business the greater security which it needs.

The techs at HCP are experts on setting up and configuring both types of firewall. For help visit http://www.hcp4biz.com/support-request/.