The word firewall in terms of hardware or software programs is actually derived from a firewall built into a building structure. If a fire were to occur in a building that did not have a firewall built, the fire would quickly spread throughout the building. However, with a firewall built into abuilding structure, the fire would be contained and unable to penetrate into the rest of the building. Another way to think about firewall programs is to compare the firewall programs to a security team. Security teams’ responsibilities include allowing permitted people to enter, while keeping them safe; and adversely to keep unpermitted people out, while eliminating suspicious activity or threats. Security teams are able to do this by assessing each situation and piece of new information before deciding what is potentially harmful and what is not.
Firewalls in the technology world for networks are hardware or software programs that act as security for your network to protect it against outside traffic that could be a potential threat. Information from the internet is filtered through the firewall program; then the firewall program allows wanted traffic through, while blocking unwanted or unidentified traffic from penetrating the system and potentially causing it harm. Additionally, firewalls are able to determine what information can leave the system and where that information can be received. The assessments of what can enter and leave the system is implemented on the Access Control List by the network administrators or Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). Access Control Lists have traffic rules based on IP addresses, domain names, protocols, programs, ports, and key words. Hackers have the ability to create malicious traffic that can compromise computer systems on small and large scales, including causing data leaks and completely crashing the system. Since companies have several computer systems on the same network, if just one is attacked and compromised, the threat could quickly spread throughout the entire company disrupting the organization as a whole. Firewalls are essential for everyone to keep their computer systems from being compromised and data from falling into malicious hands; however, it is even more essential for businesses to have appropriate firewalls in place to protect the entire business organization and its customers’ information due to how important the information is and how quickly bad traffic can spread across a network from one computer system to another.
Just like building structures and security teams, firewalls come in different sizes and offer different levels of protection. Host-based firewalls are installed on one computer and will only protect that same one computer. This level of protection is on the lower end; it is sufficient for an individual, but would not be sufficient for a business organization of any size. Network-based firewalls, which are a combination of hardware and software programs placed between a private network and public internet, protects an entire network using the Access Control List created by the network administration or MSSP. Network-based firewalls are available as a stand-alone, built-in, or cloud product. Business organizations are able to use a network-based firewall for sufficient protection across their networks or use host-based firewall protection along with the network-based firewall protection to protect the entire network and provide extra protection on a computer by computer basis.
Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) offer additional benefits and an increased level of protection for business organizations. NGFWs offer more optimized control and visibility across business organizations’ network activities. Traditional firewalls offer protection against cyberattacks and bad traffic through data entry and exit points; whereas NGFWs have additional points where activity occurs and can be assessed to protect against attacks, while transmitting data from any device. Analytics are provided by NGFWs to prevent persistent bad traffic and even future cyberattacks using the more sophisticated firewall programs. Application Level Inspection allows the firewall to identify and block bad traffic. The Intrusion Prevention System(IPS) and Intrusion Detection System (IDS) inspect and detect contents of traffic to identify malicious patterns, signatures, and anomalies using threat intelligence. Moreover, NGFWs offers additional layers of protection than traditional firewalls. NGFWs work from layer two to layer seven, while traditional firewalls are limited to only working from layer two to four. MSSPs are cybersecurity and firewall experts, which allows them to assess your business organizations needs for the size of the NGFW that will work best to protect your network. After the assessment, MSSPs handle the implementation and maintenance of the NGFW program to ensure up to date protection and immediate defense against bad traffic and malicious cyberattacks.
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