Although it’s a vital cybersecurity device for both personal and business usage, we often find our clients asking us, “What is a firewall?” In this blog, we’ll discuss what firewalls are, and why every business, small or large, should have one.
What is a Firewall?
A firewall is a security system that uses a set of predetermined rules to analyze and control the traffic that comes in and goes out of your network.
In simpler terms, it’s a gatekeeper that keeps malicious software and viruses out of your network in order to prevent data breaches.
Basic Types of Firewalls
If you search the internet for “What is a firewall?” you’ll mostly come across articles that discuss software firewalls. They typically come pre-installed on most operating systems, although you can also download third-party ones on the internet.
Software firewalls are fine for usage on personal computers, but may become costly to manage on a business network. Each device must have its own software firewall, which then needs configuration and routine maintenance. This is rather time-consuming and expensive.
Hardware firewalls protect all of the computers on a private network, and are far easier to control than software firewalls. Businesses should combine a hardware firewall with other cybersecurity solutions, such as a spam filter and antivirus, to keep their network fully protected.
Why Firewalls are Necessary
Minimize Cybersecurity Threats
As previously mentioned, the main benefit of firewalls is that they prevent cybersecurity attacks. Your IT provider can administer a set of specific rules on your network’s firewall that will recognize common viruses and malware and block them.
Monitor your Network for Breaches
To be clear, firewalls are not 100 percent impervious to cyberattacks. Your network can still be breached, especially as a result of human error by an employee.
Fortunately, firewalls do monitor your network and alert its administrator if there is any suspicious activity occurring. This way, you can respond to the breach immediately before it causes too much serious damage.
Control Employee Internet Usage
You can set firewall rules to block employees from using certain websites. Many clients opt to block distracting sites like Facebook and Amazon, while others are concerned more with cybersecurity threats. You can fully customize access based on your preference.
Necessary for PCI Compliance
If you have an ecommerce business, you probably already know that having a properly configured firewall is necessary for PCI compliance. It will protect customers’ cardholder data in the event that your network is breached.
They Won’t Affect your Network’s Performance
You may come across outdated articles that say firewalls will slow down your network and even cause it to lose internet connection. This was once true, but modern firewalls can operate at peak performance without affecting your network at all.
To recap our answer to the question, “What is a firewall?” think of it like a bouncer at a bar. It keeps unsafe traffic out, while allowing anything legitimate to pass through without an issue. For that reason, your business should definitely have one!