The Internet is full of potential security threats that your computer is open to every time you are connected. That’s where firewall protection comes in. Acting as a barrier between your information and the outside world, a firewall stops attacks before they can compromise important data.
The Necessity of Firewall Protection
Whether you’re an individual shopping online with a credit card or a business owner with customer profiles stored digitally, there’s sensitive information on your computer that you don’t want the outside world to have access too. A firewall acts like an extra “lock” on the “door” of your Internet connection. You can connect out, but those on the outside can’t see in without your express permission.
A good firewall should monitor both incoming and outgoing traffic to give you the best protection possible against common threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks, malware, viruses, keystroke monitoring and password stealing. Watching only incoming data may catch a threat coming from the Internet, but outgoing information can still be prone to hacking if it isn’t monitored.
A hardware firewall is either a standalone unit or included as part of a broadband router. These firewalls work by checking incoming data packets to see if they’re trustworthy. It looks at where the packet came from and where it’s going, aiming to detect malicious behavior and block it before it reaches your PC. In effect, this serves to shield computers behind the firewall from the outside world.
Businesses with multiple systems benefit from the “umbrella” coverage of a hardware firewall, especially those that want to hide one department’s information from reaching another part of the company. On the downside, configuration and updating is complex due to the specialized nature of these custom systems. Hardware firewalls only protect machines that are onsite and can be expensive to install.
For individuals and small businesses, software firewalls may be a more economical choice. Installed on specific devices or servers, these firewalls work whether you’re at home, in the office or on the road. Whether you do a lot of traveling or your business has many employees working in the field, a software firewall protects you information in every location.
With a software firewall, updates are automatically detected, downloaded and installed to keep the program up on all the latest potential threats so it can recognize them and warn you before any damage is done. Customization options allow you to create sets of rules as to which connections and sources are to be trusted and which should be blocked. This way, you can set up your firewall to allow only the applications you use on a regular basis and block out malicious activity from everything else.
Remember that having a firewall doesn’t give you a license to be careless. You still need antivirus software and other protection to guard against the wide range of potential threats found on the Internet. This kind of comprehensive coverage protects sensitive information to give you peace of mind as you work.