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What is a Firewall in a Computer Network?

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What is a Firewall in a Computer Network?

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What is a Firewall in a Computer Network?

Do you feel secure when you open your laptop? But do you know what makes using your PC and browsing the internet so safe? Today, we’ll talk about a firewall – a basic but important part of any computer network.

As a security device, it protects the network. Yet, a firewall can be used in various settings and present itself in an array of components. Let’s unpack it.

Firewall and Its Importance

As was mentioned above, a firewall protects the network it’s on. In particular, it’s a security measure that pays close attention to all virtual traffic going through the network and doesn’t let any unauthorized third parties access it. Any possible dangers end up blocked. Firewalls were created along with the internet and are now a basis of online security. On a physical level, a firewall can be:

  • hardware attached to the device,
  • software installed on the device,
  • Software as a service (SaaS),
  • virtual private cloud.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that firewalls are considered an essential component of a network, and most devices come preloaded with one. They guard users from cyber-attacks like viruses, hackers, and malware. Firewalls can be combined with an intrusion prevention system (IPS) and sometimes a VPN.

Firewall Capabilities

We’ve established that a firewall prevents malicious attacks. But how exactly does it work? This technology is an actual wall between the network it’s on and all other networks outside. This border between two spaces acts as a sort of filter that studies everything entering and leaving it. When it notices something dangerous, the firewall blocks it and notifies the owner of the network. Every firewall has a set of orders the information entering it has to comply with.

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Types of Firewalls

From the beginning, firewalls have developed a lot of categories. They vary by the system they are installed on and their data filtering approach.

You’ll see networks and hosts when looking at the systems they are installed on and protect. Network-based firewalls are usually hardware that safeguards a big network. Host-based firewalls are made for individual devices and are software. It’s drastically different when differentiating them by data filtering. They can be:

  • packet-filtering,
  • stateful inspection,
  • circuit-level gateway,
  • proxy,
  • next-generation,
  • threat-focused next-generation,
  • virtual or cloud,
  • cloud-native.

Firewall Uses

Both corporations and individuals utilize firewalls. Some of the firewall uses include:

  • Safe remote access. When paired with a VPN, firewalls can grant them access to a network remotely.
  • General security. As mentioned before, firewalls protect from outside threats and malicious third parties. Yet, they can also be installed as an inner shield to protect the network from the inside.
  • Inspection. Not only do firewalls protect, but they also keep a list of various functions conducted through them. Thus, network administrators can easily look through these files and inspect the patterns to improve the security of the network later.
  • Filtering the data. Based on the rules adopted by a firewall, it will filter the data going through. So, networks based on always-online connections will be protected from malicious content.
  • Controlling means of entry. Since firewalls are guarding the network from the outside world, they can be used to block access to websites. That said, companies can make sure their employees don’t visit social media or other forms of entertainment during working hours.
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Firewalls and VPNs

Firewall and VPN are a classic combination used by many companies. These two complement each other, effectively creating a perfect tandem. For example, a firewall sets a barrier between the network and the outer threats. VPN can also make the connection secure and hide your location.

When a firewall bans insecure websites, you can still access them through VPN use. The latter allows you to establish a safe passage to the content you need, be it secure or not. That’s the main difference between firewalls and VPNs – one works with blocking, and the other one channels a private connection.

A firewall is one of every device’s oldest and most important features. Be it physical hardware or online software, firewalls are essential for all users who value security. Combined with other services like VPNs, they create a perfect environment for online activity.

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