What Is a Firewall? What They Do and Why You Need One

Firewalls are network security devices that protect your internal network (your servers and PCs) from your external network (the Internet).

We’ve put together a basic guide to firewalls – what they are, when you should have one, and why.

What is a firewall?

A firewall is simply a border between the device and the firewall software is installed and running on (and devices on the LAN side of the firewall) and any other devices on the outside of it.

For example, there are many different kinds of firewalls. Windows firewall gives you very basic features, and is built into Windows.

This firewall is designed to block unwanted access to the computer itself and is not designed to protect the rest of the devices on a network.

Another form a firewall can take is a separate device all together.

Having a device that specifically functions as a firewall gives more control over what the firewall can be used to protect.

For example it is possible to buy a firewall appliance that can be attached to the perimeter of your network and block specific connections to your LAN.

When is it a good time to look into using a firewall?

On most Windows based computers Windows firewall is generally on by default so most people already run a firewall on their computers without even knowing it.

That being said, Windows firewall does not give you anywhere near the control or protection of a dedicated firewall product.

If your business requires very strict security and data compliance, or you intend to store highly confidential information (an example would be client credit card numbers), it may be in your best interest to have a third party firewall.

Third party firewalls offer much greater protection and allow the ability to configure specific rules in much greater detail than Windows firewall.

Having the ability to configure rules with more detail makes it possible for you to lock down your network and its possible security holes more tightly.

The reason this is a good idea if you are storing confidential information on a network is that having a firewall gives you control over exactly what comes in and out of your network.

Without this added security it may be possible for your valuable information to be compromised or copied to a remote location without you even knowing it is happening.

Why have a firewall or invest in a better one?

Three words: Vastly improved security. A third party firewall solutions affords you the best protection for your data and network.

If you have important data to secure, a firewall is an excellent step in protecting your network from unwanted access to your network.

If you have questions about your firewall (or lack of firewall) and would like us to evaluate your network security, please give us a call.

Whether it is security holes left open due to a weak firewall or other possible security issues we can help you secure your data!

Feature article by Frank Wright,
Service Manager for Tech Experts