A firewall is a computer system or software that is used as security software. It acts as a security checkpoint, as it examines the flow of traffic – in and out of the system. Its function is to monitor and notify the user of any unauthorized access to a system or network, increase the ability among people of importance of firewall. It also prevents the access of malicious sites or traffic into a system.
Take the example of a real firewall in a physical building that is built to prevent fire from harming the building both from inside and outside. Hence the name firewall is given to the system. The idea is to block unwanted IP addresses from entering into the system. In a private network, firewalls work as a house alarm. The entry of an authorized person is blocked by the alarm and it notifies the residents of the incoming danger. Similarly, a firewall prevents the unauthorized activity of the network and notify the user. Nowadays, a firewall has become an important part of a computer system. Especially, when the data in the system holds a high value, the importance of a firewall increases tenfolds.
Other than protection from malicious sites and the flow of unauthorized traffic in and out of the system, firewalls serve another purpose. It prevents the network from slowing down. Due to the excessive flow of traffic, a network can slow down but firewalls limit the traffic flow reducing the interruptions. Therefore, the system runs smoothly. Moreover, it prevents the invasion of privacy in user’s cyberspace.
Types of Firewall
As it is established that a firewall monitors and block malicious internet data from coming in. The determination of malicious data bad data is predetermined and stores in the firewall memory. So, it works automatically once set up. It has different types that are used for different purposes. The importance of firewall depends upon its function and range, which is why often a combination of different firewalls are used for complete protection.
Host-based and Network-based Firewalls
Host-based firewalls are installed on a computer and protect the computer from incoming harmful traffic. Many anti-virus software is examples of this type. Whereas, network-based firewalls prevent the entire network of computers attached to it.
Packet Filtering Firewall
The packets of data are monitored by the firewalls in comparison to stored information. Its main function is to monitor the whole data packet and either allowing or blocking the packet.
Proxy Server Firewalls
Proxy servers act as mediators between the user and the requested webpage. When the proxy servers retrieve the data from any website, it uses its own IP address and hides the IP address of the user maintaining the anonymity of the user. It is also used for fast internet surfing. VPNs are an example of proxy servers. One disadvantage of proxy servers is that it makes it easy for hackers to hide their identities while hacking.
Importance of Firewall in Network Security
The use of the internet has become a vital part of our daily lives. Internet networking is used everywhere from homes to big corporations. The data stored in our computers is private and often holds commercial importance. Due to this reason, the entry of malicious data traffic can cause harm to the data in many ways: stealing it, erasing it, exporting it, etc. To avoid this, firewalls are used. As mentioned above the firewall acts as a security wall between system and outside sources like websites, other systems, and networks.
Secure from Malicious websites
Firewalls block the entry of malicious websites and data packets. As the working of firewalls is discussed above, unauthorized access is blocked by firewalls unless the user manually allowed access to a certain IP address.
Many types of firewalls work as anti-virus and prevent the entry of viruses through unrealiable websites and unsafe browsing.
Many websites put a lot of bothersome ads on their website that disrupt the activity. Therefore, ad blockers are used by many people to block these unwanted ads and save time.
Baby or Underage Lock
Just like baby lock in car doors, firewalls can also prevent children from surfing specific websites or content. Many times parents use firewalls to block websites that have explicit adult content. It is a good way to monitor children’s internet activity and save them from consuming harmful content.
Many websites are used for a specific region as they have established businesses there and do not want users from other regions. For this purpose, firewalls are used to block IP addresses from targeted regions. Moreover, governments of many states do not want a specific website or content to be available in their country, so they block those websites.
National websites are in grave danger of getting hacked. There are many instances where national websites of countries were hacked by anonymous or known hackers. Since a national website has a lot of confidential data, it needs to be protected at all costs. Firewalls are used here as well to block unauthorized IP addresses hence, reducing the chances of hacking.
The use of Firewall in business
The importance of firewalls in businesses, either small or big, cannot go unnoticed. Following are the ways firewalls protect the business from external threats:
1. It prevents the attach of hackers from disrupting their business activities or stealing data from them.
2. Many workplaces block irrelevant websites that cause hindrance in the work productivity of employees. For example, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc are blocked so that employees cannot waste time on these activities and focus on work.
3. Another way to increase the productivity of employees and reduce aimless surfing is to limit the data used for specific websites such as non-business websites and sharing of entertainment content.
4. Work productivity and its direct link to time is a very important factor in businesses and offices. If an employee is getting spams continuously, one cannot perform the task well. Therefore, businesses use firewalls to block this spam.
5. It can also monitor the corrupt activities insides a business that is conducted through the internet.
6. Keeps a record of every network activity.
What are the Rules of Firewall?
It is important to keep a record of the rules of the firewall that you use. Remain updated with the changes in the rule. So that if a certain aspect of firewall software does not match your demands anymore, you can change it. Moreover, carefully select the IP addresses or websites that you want to block on your firewall. Read the policy of the purchased firewall carefully before accepting any terms and conditions. Most importantly, for business use, hire an expert who can guide better in technical aspects of using a firewall.
The use of firewalls is necessary in the modern world where almost all of the occupational activities are happening online. The importance of firewall in keeping the system secure is a huge concern for many. Other than keeping the system secure from harmful external data traffic, there are many advantages of a firewall. It has provided a proper cyberinfrastructure for security and monitoring of activities. In the past few decades, the advancement in technology is opening new doors for network security.