Almost everyone will have heard about Firewalls on their computers, but many are confused by what they are and the function they perform.
What is a firewall?
In construction, a firewall is a “fire-resistance rated wall assembly intended to slow the spread of fire from one side to the other.”
So how does this relate to computers? Well, the idea of the firewall was based on the construction-type of firewall when looking at network security.
In IT, a firewall is a “dedicated appliance, or software running on a computer, which […] denies or permits passage based on a set of rules/criteria”.
Of course we will be talking about firewalls in the IT sense and suggest that you look towards a builder contractor from your local Better Business Bureau should you require any other sort of firewall!
Who Needs a Firewall?
Anyone who is connected to an untrusted network (typically the internet) should have a firewall in place and properly configured to limit their exposure the threats.
Types of firewalls
Within most businesses you will find that there is an “edge” firewall/router device and a “local” software firewall on each computer, both of which work together to help prevent the ingress and egress of unwanted traffic. This unwanted traffic can take the form of web-sites and emails, or connection attempts in to and out of your network.
In this blog post, I’m going to focus on the “edge” firewall that exists at the perimeter of most networks. These firewall devices typically come in SOHO and Enterprise editions with feature sets that vary depending on the model (and price!).
SOHO [Small Office/Home Office]
If you have 1 to 5 computers and no server on your network, then a SOHO firewall will suit most network “edge” needs. These are the sort that you can pick up at your local computer store. It will block incoming connections whilst still allowing unfettered internet access.
The Enterprise level devices are suited to Medium/Large businesses with 6+ computers and 1 or more servers on-site. These allow features [depending on the model] such as Port Address Translation, Granular Packet Filtering, Website Filtering, Gateway Antivirus, Endpoint Security, Virtual Private Network [VPN] connections, Network Monitoring and Reporting. Sounds like a lot of “BuzzWords”, doesn’t it? Actually all of these features are very useful and can help protect both your equipment and your users from malicious traffic on your network. They can also assist in extending your network to secondary sites or to “Road Warriors”.
There is no “One-size-fits-all” solution to which edge device is right for you. We firmly recommend that you contact your network administrator or your local IT team to see which solution would be right for you.
If you have any questions, please feel free to drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.