You already use firewalls; they come with the router that allows you to access the internet and with the operating system that comes on your computer. All the websites you use for your online shopping have them too. No ecommerce site can succeed without a firewall. A firewall works as a barricade between the internet and a connected computer, making sure only those granted permission can access the information on the computer.
Where they come from is a bit convoluted. Everyone agrees that the first commercial firewall shipped in 1992 but no one agrees on who first created it, though quite a few people have claimed to be the inventor. Lots of people had the idea at the same time, and developed aspects that ended up coming together forming firewalls as we know them today.
Does My Business Need a Firewall?
Even a small business needs firewall, as they can still be targeted by cyber-criminals.
It doesn’t matter the size of your business; everyone should have a firewall. Even a small business needs one, as they can still be targeted by cyber-criminals. A firewall will keep your customer data safe which is very important to your business’s reputation. Even if most of your services will be done through cloud computing, you still have computers accessing the internet daily, and they are doing more than using the cloud. It’s too easy for them to come across a compromised site where malicious software can infect their machine. Then when they try to access the cloud, the cloud environment might be safe but the computer connecting to it isn’t, and any data exchanged between the two can be compromised.
How Do Firewalls Work?
Firewalls are a barrier between computers and potential threats from the internet. A firewall keeps suspicious data out of the company’s network while letting safe data in. It does this through a set of defined rules which filter information allowing legitimate communication to flow freely. They can do this in different ways with packet filtering (or stateless) firewalls, stateful firewalls and application firewalls.
A firewall keeps suspicious data out of the company’s network while letting safe data in.
Also known as stateless firewalls, they work by inspecting individual packets of data in isolation, and as such, are unaware of the connection state of the network and can only allow or deny data packets based on the individual packet’s header. So, it forwards or drops packets of data based on predefined rules, considering both the authenticated identification of the user and where the request originated.
These are able to determine the connection state of the packets of data which makes them more flexible than stateless ones. They collect packets of data until the connection state can be figured out then apply the firewall rules to the data. In other words, it tracks the operating state and characteristics of the network connections navigating it. It is configured to determine legitimate packets of data for different types of connections.
Also known as proxy-based firewalls, they go one step further by analyzing the data being transmitted, which lets network traffic be measured against the firewall rules specified by individual services or applications. So the application firewall controls input and/or access from, to, or by, an application or service. It works by monitoring and potentially preventing the input, output, or system service calls that do not meet the rules of the firewall.
Types of Firewalls
This is where things start to get a bit more complicated. First, we need to break it down into host-based vs. network based and hardware vs. software options. All these options can work in the formats listed above.
Host-based vs. Network vs. Enterprise Firewalls
Host based firewalls are also called personal firewalls and are simple, low cost programs or devices meant to protect a single computer. Network firewalls are meant to protect multiple computers. Again, these can consist of simple devices or programs. Enterprise firewalls are designed for larger businesses with large complex networks and therefore cost much more. They are built to manage more users, be faster and have more advanced features.
Hardware vs. Software Firewalls
All firewalls run software and run it on some sort of hardware but the terms hardware firewall and software firewall are used to differentiate between products sold as an integrated appliance (hardware) that comes with software preinstalled, and programs (software) that can be installed on general purpose operating systems such as Windows. Hardware firewalls are used to block attacks on several computers whereas a software firewall is installed on individual computers and often includes privacy controls, web filtering and other features.
How much does a firewall cost?
This isn’t simple either. We’ve covered just the general information on firewalls; it can get more complicated, and this includes the pricing structures. At its most basic, when you compare the costs of different options you need to take into account the cost for any extra features you might need. You might have an option that based on list price looks least expensive but is based on a specific number of users, ends up costing more when you have to pay for additional licences (users) and/or any add-on’s or services which all might be included in a different option.
You might have an option that based on list price looks least expensive but is based on a specific number of users, ends up costing more when you have to pay for additional licences (users).
You might feel this got a bit complicated, but really, we just covered the basics. But it’s enough for you to understand your options and communicate with the experts when trying to set up your own firewalls.
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