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What is a Firewall and How Does it Work?

June 24, 2020

Firewalls have been a key part of network security for over 25 years. Essentially, a firewall is a device that examines both incoming and outgoing traffic and blocks certain traffic based on a set of predetermined rules. This helps to create a wall between incoming traffic, your internal network, and external sources, including the internet. It is one of the most fundamental ways businesses can block traffic from malicious actors and viruses and improve cloud security.

Each company establishes their own rules for what traffic should be flagged as suspicious and blocked. The firewall works to analyze traffic and make decisions to protect the network. The firewall guards entry points, known as ports, which are responsible for exchanging information with external sources. Only trusted sources should be able to access ports and even then, access can be further limited to certain information and resources.

Different Types of Firewalls
Firewalls can be hardware, software or both. The best protection will include a hybrid combination. The software can be installed on each device to regulate traffic while the hardware can be installed to create a firewall between the network and the gateway.

Packet-Filtering Firewalls
This is the most common type of firewall and it works by examining packets and comparing them against predetermined rules. If they don’t match the ruleset, they are blocked. The firewall will look at both the source of the packet and its destination. If everything checks out, it will be flagged as trusted and allowed to enter the network.

Packet-filtering firewalls come in two types: stateful and stateless. With a stateless sequrity, the individual packets are analyzed, but they are read without the help of additional context. This can create vulnerabilities and hackers know how to take advantage of these. It record details about previous packets, which allows them to make more informed decisions and provide better protection.

Next-Generation Firewalls
Next-generation firewalls take the technology of packet-filtering even further with additional tools. Instead of simply looking at the packet heart, they offer deep packet inspection (DPI) that provides a look at the actual content of the packet. These more advanced programme also include instruction prevention systems, powerful antivirus tools, and encryption technology so that even if a hacker is able to access the network, they won’t be able to read the data.

Proxy Firewalls
A proxy firewall is also commonly known as an application or gateway firewall. They are generally considered to be the most effective type. It comes with its own IP address, so no information goes directly to the network. Essentially, there is one point of entry and an additional connection is created each time there is an incoming or outgoing packet. This also makes it easy for a programmer to monitor threats in real-time and make adjustments accordingly. While a proxy firewall is highly effective, it can slow down the network and create bottlenecks.

Network Address Translation (NAT) Firewalls
NAT firewalls are an intermediary between network computers and external traffic. It allows multiple devices to connect to the internet through one IP address. This hides the individual IP addresses so that hackers aren’t able to view the specific details of the IP address of each device.

Stateful Multilayer Inspection (SMLI) Firewalls
This security programme works to make sure that communication is only occurring with trusted sources. It filters packets at every layer of the network from transport to application while also comparing information against packets that have already been identified as trusted.

As technology advances and businesses rely on extensive networks, global communication, and a variety of remote devices, security becomes even more important. Firewalls are the first line of defense and an essential part of any cloud security strategy. To learn more about your options and get help with cloud security and compliance, no matter what industry you are a part of, contact the experts at prancer today.