There are numerous hidden dangers out there than can affect your PC security, and the tactics grow daily. Since computer security is so important to keeping your personal information safe, most computers now come with a firewall, while those that do not strongly recommend that you install one. Here is a look at how firewalls work and how they can protect your PC’s security.
How Firewalls Keep you Secure
A firewall is needed for anyone who is on the internet for an extended period of time. Companies often use them to block access to certain sites by their employees; however, you may also utilize them at home to protect your personal computer. A firewall offers you PC security against hackers and offensive websites. Simply put, a firewall is a barrier that keeps unwanted items from accessing your computer, much like a physical firewall prevents a fire from spreading from one area to another.
The Firewall Software and What it Does for Computer Security
In the virtual world, a firewall is a program that filters information. If incoming information is flagged, the computer will not allow it through. This helps protect your computer for questionable content that could be of danger to you.
In a company scenario, a business often has multiple computers that are connected together. These computers are often simultaneously connected to the internet. If there is no firewall set up, all a hacker would have to do is access one computer in the network and he or she could access all of the company computers.
It would only take one employee leaving a computer unprotected for the entire company’s PC security to be at risk. A firewall is placed at each point of entry to the internet, thus creating a virtual barrier.
Each firewall may possess its own rules or settings. For instance, only one computer might be allowed to receive public FTP traffic and the others would only be allowed network access. The company can also block certain websites and files to keep access to the internet and the network limited.
Three Methods Firewalls Employ to Protect PC Security
There are three different methods that firewalls can use to help keep up your computer security:
1. Packet filtering – the firewall analyzes small chunks of data against filters. If the packet makes it through, it gets sent to the requesting system, and if it doesn’t then it is discarded.
2. Proxy service – the firewall obtains information from the internet and transmits it to the requesting system, and any outgoing information is retrieved by the firewall and sent to the internet.
3. Stateful inspection – this is similar to the packet filtering method, but alternatively looks at specific parts of the packet and compares it to trusted information. If information is being sent out of the firewall, then it is checked for certain characteristics, and incoming information is compared to these. If the two match up, the information is allowed through, if not it is discarded.
Customizing Your Firewall for Ultimate Computer Security
What makes firewalls so useful is the fact that they can be customized. IP addresses are one way that this can be done – if a certain IP address is reading too many company files, then the firewall can be set up to block all traffic from the specified IP address. Alternatively, domain names can be used in the same fashion, since IP addresses can change and be difficult to remember. So the company can choose to block certain domain names in efforts of overall computer security.
Another way that the firewall can protect PC security is through protocols, or the text that describes how the two ends will have their conversation. This allows the firewall to block IP, TCP, HTTP, SMTP, and other common protocols from accessing the computer. Often, only one or two computers may have access to a certain protocol, and it will be banned from all others. The firewall can also be used to block certain ports, preventing a certain type of server from being accessed except by allowed computers.
Lastly, a firewall can be set up to block specific words and phrases. This will cause the firewall to block anything that is given a certain keyword. The keyword has to be an exact match, but you can include as many words, phrases, and variations as you choose to. This type of filtering is often useful for blocking adult content from computers, particularly in the workplace or homes where children have access to the internet.
Many operating systems will have the firewall built in, but you can install your own if you do not like the factory standard application, or if one is not included. Installing a firewall is a needed step if you are serious about protecting your PC security from the outside world.