According to a study by NCSA Cyber Security, only 4% of Americans say they understand firewalls “completely” while more than 44% do not understand firewalls at all – or know if they have turned on their computer. Do you need a firewall?
Unless you are a rare person who uses one computer directly connected to the Internet, you have another powerful layer of defense against online attacks. A wireless router that Doles also protects them from connections to all devices. Uses network address translation (NAT) to assign each device an IP address within the range visible only on the local network. That’s enough to block many direct attacks. Some routers have additional security layers.
Of course, when you are on the road, the router is not sitting at home or in the office. In fact, you are vulnerable to other users’ attacks on this unreliable wireless airport. A cafe offering free Wi-Fi? The owner of the suspicious cafe could search the entire Internet, intercepting useful items such as credit card numbers. When you’re on the road, you really need a virtual private network or VPN.
VPN encrypts Internet traffic up to a server operated by the VPN company. Advertising sites and other tracking modules see the VPN IP address, not their own. You can also use a VPN to fake your geographical location, perhaps to view content blocked in the region, or to protect yourself when traveling in a country with restrictive internet policies. You may not need a firewall, but you do need a VPN.
How software firewalls work
The software firewall works on your computer. It acts as a guard, allowing some traffic and rejecting inbound traffic. Windows itself has a built-in software firewall that was first enabled by default in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). Because software firewalls run on your computer, they can monitor which applications want to use the Internet and block and allow traffic for specific applications.
If you connect your computer directly to the Internet, it is important to use a software firewall – you should not worry about it, because the firewall comes with Windows by default.
Why companies should have a firewall when not
If you run a business and you don’t have a firewall yet, I highly recommend it. Although it may not be needed for a private network, a business network is often more interesting to an attacker than a private one because of information held by companies.
The physical firewall is the first line of defense against external threats. By now, you should know the advantages of a firewall and this is simply a must for the company. It is much easier to control one firewall than to manage software firewalls on company computers, especially if you have several such firewalls.
If you have two offices in two different locations, having a firewall can actually connect the two offices using a VPN tunnel. This means that you have two firewalls on each site, which then connect to each other in a secure, encrypted network tunnel.
Many of these problems are problems that you don’t have on the private network, and these are just some of the reasons why a company should have a hardware firewall, even if it’s just a small business.