Different Kinds Of Firewalls

Cybersecurity is more important than ever, with cyberattacks costing businesses billions every year.

Commercial firewalls have been available since the 1990s, but technology has changed drastically since then. With so many options available now, it can feel difficult to know where to start in choosing the right firewall. 

Read on to learn what a firewall is, how it works, and how to choose the correct firewall to protect you.

What is a Firewall?

A firewall works as a barrier between your devices and external networks. It monitors your incoming and outgoing traffic to determine whether there’s anything sinister going on, like a virus trying to install itself from the internet, for example.

Firewalls check for specific security rules to decide whether it allows or blocks certain packets of data. There are various kinds of firewalls to protect at different levels.

You can also install firewalls as software, hardware, or cloud-based protection.

How Does a Firewall Work?

Depending on what kind of protection you’re after, you can install a firewall as a piece of hardware, software, or a cloud-based service.

Hardware and cloud-based solutions are usually targeted toward businesses to protect a network of devices and virtual platforms with advanced features and permissions.

Software is more affordable and easily accessible for small businesses and home users. Firewall software can scan files and apps for viruses and monitor web usage, all while cross-referencing a database of known threats and updates regularly.

Whatever kind you choose, a firewall’s filters protect your data and devices by looking out for specific cybersecurity threats, including:

  • DDoS prevention – hackers may drastically slow down a server by flooding it with data requests.
  • Backdoors – viruses and hackers can exploit security bugs in some apps and platforms to gain access to your data and manipulate programs without your knowledge.
  • Malicious scripts – a script, also known as a macro, is a piece of code that an application can run to perform complex tasks. Hackers may use these scripts to execute dangerous processes that can harm your devices and data.

Types of Firewalls

Curious about what firewall type is best? Read on to learn about the most common types of firewalls and their features.

Packet-filtering firewalls

Considered the most basic kind of firewall, a packet-filtering firewall monitors incoming packets of data. Without a firewall, these packets of data can all reach their destination. A firewall implements a set of security rules—every packet is inspected, and if a known threat is detected, the packet is removed.

A packet-filtering firewall is quick and efficient to use, offering a basic level of security.

Proxy firewalls

Proxy firewalls offer application-level protection. Instead of the firewall simply monitoring the data packets sent and received, the proxy acts as a ‘mirror’ of the device, so it becomes the only exit and entry point for data. It protects the destination ports and at the same time can perform security checks at a deeper level.

Proxy firewalls are a more secure option, but they’re slower and put more strain on your device’s resources.

Stateful inspection firewalls

Stateful inspection firewalls examine several characteristics of incoming data and compare them against a database of known, trusted packets. 

It offers a much higher level of security, but it can impact a system’s performance and it is generally more expensive than a basic option.

Next-generation firewalls

Next-gen firewalls combine traditional firewall features like packet inspection with other security elements. These might include malware detection and antivirus protection.

A more comprehensive firewall solution, it inspects the data within the packets sent and received, based on a constantly updated database, as well as filtering for specific security rules. Next-generation firewalls are more expensive for this reason.

Deciding on a Firewall

When choosing a firewall to protect your devices and data, you should take into account the level of security you require, and the budget you can afford. Think about the protection you need now and in the future. 

If you own a business, you may need more advanced firewall features if you have a large network and complex requirements. Choosing cloud-based and hardware firewalls can suffice.

Most home users and small businesses will do well to choose a software firewall that provides malware detection and network monitoring, like GlassWire.

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