How to Protect your Computer Network – Lesson #2 – Firewalls

You have heard the term. You may even know if you have one. But have you ever wondered what it is they really do? Hopefully I’ll be able to shed some light on these important devices. But first I have the clear something up. There are firewalls, and then there are firewalls. Yep, not all are the same.

The company that provides your internet service at home or at the office, probably told you they installed a firewall as part of the service. And they are probably right. On some basic level, the box they installed “legally” could be called a firewall even though it probably doesn’t have the capacity to protect your network in such a way as firewalls were designed.

Firewalls are the first line of defense from all the malicious activity happening on the Internet. A Firewall, right out of the box, will block all Internet traffic from reaching your internal network. So, all those hackers and the programs they write that are running around the internet looking for exposed networks, will see your network as an impenetrable wall.

But if that is case, how can you still get to Google from your computer? Wouldn’t the firewall block that? Well, what a firewall also does is act as a middleman of sorts. When a computer on the safe side (your internal network) requests something on the bad side (the Internet side), like, the firewall travels to Google, makes a connection to their server, and then allows your computer to interact with Google. But the important part here is that the Firewall only allows information from outside your network if the request originated from the inside. This is how your staff can surf the internet without issue, but also keep all those forces on the outside at bay. But this is the just the start of what a real firewall does.

The type of firewall you need in today’s digital environment should include a suite of security services to further protect your internal network. Even though information coming from the outside is requested specifically be someone inside, does not mean that information is safe.

Real firewalls have Stateful Packet Inspection where the firewall begins putting the pieces of the data flowing through to the inside network together and evaluates if that data is truly what is says it is. Almost like asking for your ID before boarding the plane. The firewall’s job is to keep all passenger’s safe from people impersonating someone else.

Also included is, Gateway Antivirus technology scanning for and stopping viruses before they even reach the computer they’re destined for. Imagine an email with an attachment containing a virus that gets stopped before it makes it to the inbox of the unwitting victim. Woohoo! With a Layered Security approach, we add just one more line of defense making it even more difficult for the virus to make it all the way to its recipient.

And many of these proper firewalls will have Content Filtering services, Anti-malware systems, etc.… to further enhance the security of the network. As we have discussed in this series, having the proper firewall is just part of the due diligence organizations need to perform this day and age with their technology. If you are unsure what type of firewall you have, reach out to us and we’ll let you know if the protections you have in place are good.

Cohen Barnes

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