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What Does a Firewall Do?

written by: Ashwin Satyanarayana•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/4/2011

We do know about the overall functions of the firewall, but you aren't clear about what specifically it does to help protect your network? Well, read on to know the nitty gritty of how a firewall works.

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    A firewall is an incredibly effective way to connect to an external information source like the Internet and still be safe from all the threats that can crippler the very fabric of your information systems and even businesses. However, its very presence is very annoying, especially since the information highway is supposed to have made everything accessible to everyone and firewalls seem to put speed breakers all over the world. Despite its odds, a firewall is a must have and we are better off when we know what it can do and what it doesn’t do.

    What does a Firewall Do?

    A firewall can ease your security decisions: All incoming or outgoing information has to pass through a firewall and that makes it a strategic point for all information exchange between the Internet and your computer network. That means that if you focus your efforts related to internet security for your company on this one point, more than half of your work is accomplished.

    Enforced security policy made possible: There are certain technologies or access protocols that you would better keep within your network system and then there are some that you don’t in at all. You would also like to allocate certain privileges to certain insiders within your network and not for everyone. Further, you might have certain policies within your security policy. The question is, will all this be enforced? A firewall, simplifies this enforcing to a large extent. You set the rules and then you let the firewall take care of the enforcement company wide, network wide.

    Want information on all activity? You got it: Since the firewall is like a single gate through which all information exchange must happen, you now have access to all the activity happening within your network. Everything can be condensed into reports and made use by the IT administrators or the business owners for a thorough analysis and better IT infrastructure & security management.

    A firewall can be like a real firewall and limit your losses: In large organizations, we typically have more than on firewall which protects even certain parts of the overall network. This way, in case there is a problem at one end of the network, this can be contained and the risk is greatly minimized.

Understanding Firewalls for Small Businesses

This series has everything to do with Firewalls -- the basics, the concepts, the types and the reviews on various firewalls for small businesses
  1. Firewall Definition: Does your Business Have a Firewall?
  2. Importance of a Reliable Firewall
  3. Small Business Security Basics: Functions of a Firewall
  4. What Kind of Firewall Do You Really Need?
  5. What Does a Firewall Do?
  6. What is a Firewall?
  7. Some Common Firewall Myths Exposed