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We live in an age of information. Sensitive information, be it customer credit cards or your banking details, can spell trouble if they fall into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, hackers and malware pose a real threat to the security of information both at home and in the office. This is when a firewall should be used.

What Is a Firewall?

Firewalls have been an integral part of IT for over two decades now. There are both software and hardware firewalls, but the job of each remains the same: to filter out unwanted data traffic from a source and prevent it from causing trouble.

For example, a firewall can prevent an attack from a malicious internet source from getting into your home network. It scans packets of data in real-time and filters it based on a series of rules. It also monitors traffic from the networks, too, because sometimes malicious programs can send out unwanted data to third-party servers.

What Does a Firewall Do?

A firewall performs the following tasks:

  • Monitors and analyzes incoming and outgoing traffic based on rules
  • Prevents unauthorized access to a network by blocking data
  • Provides notifications of all monitored traffic, including suspicious traffic

In this way, a firewall acts as an intermediate wall of security that sits between the network and the web.

Do You Need One?

What many people don’t understand is that as soon as they connect a computer to the web, it is vulnerable to being accessed by malicious sources. Without a firewall, this network is able to be accessed because there is nothing monitoring, analyzing, and potentially blocking data coming into and going out of the computer.

The Windows operating system has included a software firewall for some time now, but third-party software firewalls can also be downloaded for Windows and other operating systems. In fact, many routers will also have some type of port blocking or firewall capability, and the best course of action is to use a firewall like this and a software firewall on each computer in the network to provide maximum security.