What is a firewall – and do I need one?

071613-whatisafirewall-02In firefighting, a firewall is a barrier designed to prevent the spread of destruction; everything behind the wall is protected. In computing, firewalls work much the same way. The computers and data behind the firewall are protected from attacks from the outside.

There are two types of firewalls: Software and hardware. You probably have a software firewall on your computer already; most operating systems include one that is turned on by default. Software firewalls protect only the computer on which the software is installed. Hardware firewalls protect a whole network or group of computers.

Both types of firewalls protect your computer from outside attacks from hackers, viruses, and worms. Both also protect the sensitive business and personal data on your computer and network from outsiders who should not have access to that information. Firewalls also control which programs on your computer are allowed to access the Internet, permission that is often granted by the user.

Now, do you need a firewall?

The short answer is yes, your home and business computers need a firewall. First, a hardware firewall or a software firewall on your router will protect your whole network from outside attacks. If you manage a large business computer network, you can even have firewalls within your network that prevent one group of computers from accessing the data another group of computers is allowed to read.

Then, each computer on your network should have a software firewall installed to protect that individual computer. This prevents an attack that gets through to one computer from affecting all computers on that network.

Got questions about firewalls and computer security? Contact us today!

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