At their most basic, firewalls work like a filter between your computer/network and the Internet. You can program what you want to get out and what you want to get in. Everything else is not allowed. There are several different methods firewalls use to filter out information, and some are used in combination. These methods work at different layers of a network, which determines how specific the filtering options can be.

Firewalls can be used in a number of ways to add security to your home or business.

How do Firewalls protect Businesses

  • Large corporations often have very complex firewalls in place to protect their extensive networks.
  • On the outbound side, firewalls can be configured to prevent employees from sending certain types of emails or transmitting sensitive data outside of the network.
  • On the inbound side, firewalls can be programmed to prevent access to certain websites (like social networking sites).
  • Additionally, firewalls can prevent outside computers from accessing computers inside the network.
  • A company might choose to designate a single computer on the network for file sharing and all other computers could be restricted.
  • There is no limit to the variety of configurations that are possible when using firewalls.
  • Extensive configurations typically need to be handle and maintained by highly trained IT specialists, however.

The need of Firewalls for Personal Use

  • For home use, firewalls work much more simply.
  • The main goal of a personal firewall is to protect your personal computer and private network from malicious mischief.
  • Malware, malicious software, is the primary threat to your home computer. Viruses are often the first type of malware that comes to mind. A virus can be transmitted to your computer through email or over the Internet and can quickly cause a lot of damage to your files. Other malware includes Trojan horse programs and spyware.
  • These malicious programs are usually designed to acquire your personal information for the purposes of identity theft of some kind.
  • There are two ways a Firewall can prevent this from happening.
  • It can allow all traffic to pass through except data that meets a predetermined set of criteria, or it can prohibit all traffic unless it meets a predetermined set of criteria.

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