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Some Common Firewall Myths Exposed

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

There are a few things in this world that aren't perfect -- especially human beings. Like most things, firewalls have their imperfections and are not these all-in-one solution to your security problems. Firewalls can only do certain things and not all of them. Here are a few myths exposed.

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    Firewalls, in spite of what the vendors would like you to believe, aren’t a complete solution to your security threats. Of course, no one is contesting the efficiency of a firewall, but it is just being stated that it isn’t the complete solution yet, because there are a lot of things a firewall can’t do. Here are a few myths about what people thought about the firewalls:

    Myth 1: A firewall is always hardware

    Not just hardware, it can be but it doesn’t have to be. Most of the firewalls are either hardware, software or a combination of both. It really depends on what you are looking at. An example of good firewall hardware is a wireless router.

    Myth 2: A firewall can protect you from all possible threats

    Not even close to the truth. There are a lot of things a firewall can’t do. Starting from the simplest level, a firewall cannot protect you from insiders within your company with malicious intentions. Users inside can spread malware, steal data and do anything as they please and there is nothing your all-powerful firewall can do. Host security and proper training and education is the only way out of this problem.

    Myth 3: A firewall protects all possible Information Exchange

    We have learnt that a firewall is effective because most of the Internet traffic passes through it and hence it becomes a great point for Internet security effectiveness. However, logically speaking, there is nothing a firewall can do about any information exchange if that exchange doesn’t happen through the firewall’s gates. What doesn’t go through it isn’t even picked at. It isn’t noticed.

    Myth 4: Even if a threat is completely new, a firewall can still protect you against it

    A firewall is basically designed to protect you against known threats only. Some of the new ones also do protect you against some new threats, but it can’t do so automatically against every new threat. New ways to attack are conceived more quickly than the industry is able to design tools to protect your system. A firewall is not a set-up-once-and-forget-it-forever type of a utility.

    Myth 5: A firewall is enough, who needs an anti-virus program?

    You do. Everyone does. That’s because a firewall can’t keep viruses out. In the article, it has been discussed that the firewall follows some set rules and does the blocking or allowing of certain information base don parameters like Sources, Destinations, Port Numbers, Content and the like. There are simply too many viruses out there and there is no way you can set rules for your firewall to follow. Most businesses use a firewall in tandem with a robust anti-virus package for the best possible use.

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