What is a Firewall?

Updated: Jul 23, 2019

A Computer is safe from the internet with a firewall.
Firewalls help control network traffic

Many of my clients get confused about networking equipment that they have in their place of business. And rightly so as these are appliances that you generally never touch and may never see. They just sit in place and work. One of these devices is a Firewall. 

Firewalls can be virtual but they can also be a physical stand alone device that have firewall software installed on the system. 

Often Firewalls and Routers are the same physical device.  Keep in mind that many routers have firewall capabilities but this does not mean they are turned on. 

Not all firewalls are created equal. You should always work with an IT professional when selecting a firewall as there are so many out there to choose from  and there are so many configurations that it is even hard to know what to pick.

No matter what.  Get a firewall!

What is a Firewall?

A firewall stops bad traffic from coming on your network. A firewall scans and filters traffic. A firewall helps route traffic to keep your network from being overwhelmed such as in the case of a DDOS attack. 

Level 7 firewalls can  block users on the network from going to ranges of sites, say Facebook or Instagram. Because unfortunately social media can waste a lot of time for companies and can allow things like malware on the network. Firewalls are also used to slow down or block services that use a lot of network resources like video streaming and music streaming. Both which are notorious data hogs and can slow networks to a crawl. 

Firewalls can also be configured to block specific sites that may be an issue to the company. Firewalls can have rules setup to disallow certain users from accessing particular sites or doing specific actions. 

Firewalls are incredible device meant to secure you, unfortunately just having a firewall is not enough. Firewalls cannot always read the data that is being transferred. If the data is encrypted firewalls generally cannot scan that and block the data. Smarter malware means you need a smarter firewall and may added software on your firewall to protect yourself. 

A Firewall should be one piece to a full security plan. 

The beginning basics of your security plan should include

  • A Firewall

  • Anti-Virus on every machine on your network

  • Backup for every machine on your network

  • Education on basic security practices

This may have created more questions in your mind than answers. The realty is this is a complicated process when you go to purchase a Firewall. You are not likely to find a business grade firewall at your local big box store. You will find a router with firewall capabilities. However when it comes to your business reach out to an IT professional who will ask the right questions about your business to help you select the right firewall and create a comprehensive IT security plan for your company. If you believe you need a firewall or need help with a security plan reach out to DataCom Technologies. We specialize in helping companies determine the right solutions. Learn more about Firewalls and your other questions in our Frequently Asked Tech Questions Podcast. Nate Sheen Nate Sheen owns DataCom Technologies which is an IT management company in Alliance Ohio. 

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