Firewalls come in two basic types: hardware based and software based. Both types of firewalls are important and play a major role in the security of computers and networks. The firewall is the first line of defense. It can be equated to U.S. Marines who guard the gates of U.S. embassies worldwide. None enters until an identity check has taken place. Firewalls act in the same manner, based on the security rules protecting the computer from cyber-criminals.
Hardware- and software-based firewalls perform the same basic function: to keep unauthorized visitors from accessing the computer or network. Firewalls are not created equal, and an inexpensive hardware-based or free software-based firewall can give the computer owner a false sense of security and allow unauthorized traffic to go undetected. Since the firewall is the first line of defense against cyber-crime activity, you should do extensive research to find the firewall that works best for your individual needs.
A hardware-based firewall may be a small appliance with several ethernet ports, or built into a network router. The firewall is connected between the modem and the network, filtering all traffic, coming and going. It filters incoming traffic to protect against intruders, and filters outgoing traffic to make sure that if a piece of malicious code did make it through, it cannot connect back to the mother server without specific permission. For home networks, it is always best to purchase a router with a built-in firewall.
Software-based firewalls provide a level of protection intended to keep cyber-criminal and BotNets from gaining unauthorized access to individual computers. In addition, software-based firewalls block malicious code from contacting out to the mother server. Although it is common for the average computer user to download free firewalls, it is a best practice to find an enterprise-grade firewall that allows custom filtering rules that are best suited for the individual user's specific needs.
Computer Security Best Practices
It is common practice for individual computer users to use the bundled security software available on their new computers, or worse yet to rely only on the Windows Defender solution which comes with all new Microsoft Windows installs. However, this is the worst security solution available. Professional cyber-criminals use reverse-engineering techniques to find security flaws in these security solutions and breach the security virtually undetected. It is a best practice to use two or three security vendors to create a security solution, which includes a firewall as well as antivirus and anti-spyware software.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to firewalls or computer security. Each computer user stores different types of files and surfs the Internet in different ways, so research each part of your security solution to find what is best for your individual needs. It is also wise to purchase a new high-end network router every 24 to 36 months, so you will have the newest firewall technology protecting your network from unauthorized intrusion.
- Photo Credit Troy Dooly Collection
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