[BreachExchange] Firewalls: What They Are & Why You Need Them

Audrey McNeil audrey at riskbasedsecurity.com
Wed May 2 10:06:41 EDT 2018


There are some phrases that you hear bandied about, and you think that you
know what they are. You have a basic understanding and that suits your
current needs. Firewall is one of these words. You will be familiar with it
already, but do you really know what one is?

In its simplest terms, a firewall is a barrier between your desktop, mobile
device or cell phone and the viruses that are prevalent on the internet.
Data is exchanged between your chosen device and servers and routers that
are in cyberspace – the firewall essentially monitors this data.

The data is served up in bite (or perhaps byte?) sized chunks called
packets. The data in the packets are checked against the rules of the
firewall. If all is well, the data can pass, and if there is anything
suspicious, the packet is rejected.

Firewalls are typically basic features of most operating systems, but it is
wise to take extra measures to ensure that you have the best protection for
your systems – especially in a business scenario where a loss of data or
breach of security can have serious implications.

Just as new technologies emerge, so too do the ways that cybercriminals
evolve their methods for accessing your data, it’s important that you keep
up to date with your digital security. It can feel like a minefield, but it
is critical that you do to ensure a secure future.

There are two types of firewalls – network and host-based.

Network firewalls

Network firewalls are used by businesses that may have multiple computers,
servers, and users. As well as protecting business-critical data over the
complete system, they are a great way of giving businesses control over
which websites or IP addresses can be accessed by employees from their
computers, for example, Facebook.

However, rather than having to manually ensure that your cyber security is
updated with latest versions to be attack-resistant, you can use a
universal protection system such as a CASB that protects your network
system with all of the latest software and technologies. This is the
equivalent to your firewall’s rules – for checking the packets will always
be current so that new attacks are isolated before harm is done.


Host-based firewalls work similarly to network firewalls but are exclusive
to the computer on which they are installed. Domestic computers typically
have host-based firewalls as well as the hardware firewall (router), but
they are also used in business when computers are not protected by a
network firewall. Each computer must be manually checked so that latest
security versions are installed.

A firewall is your first level of defense against cyber-attack and is best
used alongside other security measures to ensure that you are covered in
all bases. Firewalls are easy to install and offer protection from
malicious software, trojans, viruses, pop-ups, cookies and more. They are
an essential tool for your online security, and your customers’ online
security – but you must ensure that definitions and versions are kept
current – the majority of online security breaches are due to human error!
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