Firewall: what is a firewall, what is it for and how does it work?

We are going to explain what a firewall or firewall is, solutions designed to protect your computer that can be complemented or integrated into an antivirus. They are types of protection that you are possibly already using without realizing it, but that does not mean that you should not worry and not know what they do and what they don’t do.

We will start by explaining to you in a simple and understandable way what a firewall is and what it is for. Then, we will explain how they work by telling you the two main types of firewalls, and we will end by reminding you that you should not delegate 100% to them or any other solution to protect your computer.

What is a firewall and what is it for?

The firewall, in English, in the world of computing is a security system to block unauthorized access to a computer while still allowing your computer to communicate with other authorized services. They are also used on computer networks, especially intranets or local networks. It is one of the first security measures that began to be implemented in computers after the birth of the Internet.

Its origin dates back to the end of the 1980s, when the Internet took its first steps and the first hackers discovered that with this new network they could infiltrate and mischief other people’s computers, which led to a series of important violations. security and malware attacks.

The Internet needed to be more secure in order to spread, so several researchers began developing the first versions of computer firewalls in 1988 as a method of filtering digital packets that reached a computer.

Over time they evolved to better analyze the incoming information and filter possible threats. The purpose has always been the same that they continue to have today, that of establishing security criteria, and filtering all the communications that enter or leave the computer to intercept those that do not comply with them and let the rest through.

These criteria vary and evolve over time to keep up to date with attacks that are also constantly evolving. It is important to know that the firewalls do not eliminate the malware that tries to enter, it only tries to block their access. If you already have a virus on your computer, the firewall will not be able to do as much, and you will have to combine it with an antivirus.

How firewalls work

Firewalls can be of two types, they can be software, hardware, or a combination of both. This means that they can be applications that you install on your computer or devices that connect to it to control traffic.

Physical firewalls can be standalone products or come directly integrated into a router. The independent ones are usually located between the Internet access point and the switch that is in charge of distributing the connection between the computers on the same network. The fact that it goes before the network is distributed among the computers means that everyone on an internal network is protected.

They are good for many external attacks, especially for internal networks and intranets. This makes them good tools for companies and large networks. But they are not as secure with many types of attacks coming through another application, such as Trojans or threats you receive through fraudulent emails.

The most popular among ordinary users are firewalls in the form of software, which are applications that can be installed on computers. In addition to intercepting access attempts from the outside, they also usually include additional protections against the most common Trojans and email viruses. Their disadvantage is that they only protect each computer that has them installed individually.

Now we are going to talk about its functions. As we have explained, firewalls are located between the local network and the Internet, and their mission is to protect you by blocking unsolicited or dangerous traffic. But it can do other things, like taking advantage of analyzing incoming or outgoing traffic to configure filters for different types of traffic with which to decide what to do with it.

In these configurations many things can be done, such as allowing only connections to servers with specific IP addresses, discarding the rest for security. This obviously is not very effective at home, it prevents you from navigating easily, but in business or more closed areas it can be useful.

By being able to analyze outgoing traffic, they can also detect if there is any malware communicating with the network, monitoring the use of corporate networks, or filtering the traffic. In addition, it can also be configured, for example, so that only the browser of a company’s computers can connect to the Internet, blocking access to other applications for security.

Few Trusted Firewalls:

Don’t let them let their guard down

You can always install third-party firewall applications. But you should know that operating systems like Windows 10 already have integrated firewalls, and many of the routers that exist today also have their modules to filter possible threats, although they are usually quite basic protections.

Still, whether you have a built-in firewall or decide to buy or install one, you should never delegate exclusively to it when it comes to protecting yourself. Yes, they add an extra layer of security to your computer, but that does not mean that you will not be threatened by any type of malware.

The best thing is always to complement your protections. If you have an operating system like Windows 10, which integrates its own antivirus with a firewall, it is true that you may not need to install third party applications. But that does not prevent you from having to take many precautions and navigate with caution to avoid the most common threats. The same thing happens if you have only a firewall or an antivirus, you can complement them, while still letting your guard down.

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