What is a firewall?
A firewall can be considered as a shield that blocks unsafe or unwanted traffic coming to a computer from another computer or server. It helps in safeguarding a computer against cyber attacks that prevail over the internet. Basically, the firewall monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic looking for unauthorized and suspicious activities.
Why is firewall important?
- To protect a computer system from unauthorized remote accessHackers always look for computers that are vulnerable to attack. If a computer does not have the firewall enabled, it can be intruded by a hacker who can gain access to the inside of the computer system and remotely access the computer without the permission of the owner. This means that the hacker can have complete control over the computer along with the data present in the storage. Enabling a firewall may reduce the chances of such an attack.
- To get a warning about unsafe applicationsA firewall can help the user to stay protected from unsafe applications that may harm the computer system. Usually, a firewall blocks any application being installed by the user if the application belongs to an unknown publisher. The user is asked for permission whether the application should be allowed or not along with a warning message that the application may be harmful to the system. The user can allow the application to be installed if it is from a trusted source.
- To make online gaming saferA huge number of users play online games. Although game publishers take care of players’ security, there are many servers that are compromised and contain different malware developed to target online gamers. The firewall should always be enabled on a computer system if it is to be used for online gaming. This will help to create a barrier against any malware present on unsecured servers. Mostly, the firewall is automatically configured according to the profile for a certain software category.
- To have control over the internet usage on a computer systemOther than securing the computer from hackers, firewalls can also block user-defined URLs. Most of the parental control software use this type of feature to filter the content that can be accessed using a particular computer on which the software is installed.
Configuring a firewall
Configuring a file is as important as enabling it. Without proper configuration, a firewall will only be set with basic rules which will perform limited detection and the computer will be less secure. A firewall with an adequate configuration will be able to block the IP based on criteria such as login request failure, more than the required number of connections, port scanning and other malicious activities configured in the firewall. An HTTP request is allowed or denied by the firewall application according to the nature of the request. The main reason for a hacked computer is often an outdated application that is easy to crack for a hacker or spammer. But if a well-configured firewall is present on the computer then such attacks can be avoided. The user can ask an expert for help for the firewall setup if the user has no or little knowledge of computer settings.
Hardware and Software Firewall
A hardware firewall is the one that is physically placed between the internet and the routers to protect the internal network. The hardware firewall is mostly used by big organizations in order to safeguard their internal network from attackers. Personal computer or server resources are used by the hardware firewall as it is a dedicated device running outside the server or computer. Configuration of the hardware firewall is done through a web interface. A software firewall is an application that can be installed on a computer or server. A software firewall costs less than a hardware firewall. Also, almost all the operating systems nowadays have a default firewall. As the software firewall is installed on the system or server, it does not protect the internal network but secures only the device that it has been installed on. A software firewall is easier to configure than a hardware firewall.
There is a misconception among people that installing an antivirus on a computer system is enough to protect it from any kind of attack from hackers. But the reality is that a firewall is equally important to safeguard a computer system from threats and attacks. Although many antiviruses come with firewall features, using a standalone software that focuses on firewall particularly is always the best practice.
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