Connecting personal computers to other IT systems or the Internet opens up several positive possibilities—easy cooperation with others, a combination of resources, increased creativity, and exposure users to dangers.
Hacking, identity theft, malware, and online fraud are common threats that users could face when they expose themselves by linking their computers to a network or the Internet.
What if there was a way for users to protect themselves from the worst dangers by erecting an invisible wall to filter out the threats? It would have been essential to have it—fortunately, it already exists. This invisible wall is what is known as a firewall.
Erected between a computer and its connection to an external network or the web, a firewall decides which network traffic is allowed to pass through and which traffic is considered to be hazardous. It essentially works to filter out the good from the bad, the trustworthy from the untrustworthy.
Types of Firewalls
The different types of firewalls include software, hardware, or a combination of both. They all have different uses, strengths, and weaknesses.
Here are the different firewall types:
Among the most ubiquitous types of shields available, state-of-the-art firewall inspections allow or block traffic based on technical features such as specific protocols, states, or ports.
Stateful Firewall inspection makes filtering decisions to determine whether the data is allowed to pass to the user. These decisions are often based on the administrator's rules when setting up a computer and a firewall.
The firewall can also make its own decisions based on previous interactions it has "learned" from. For example, the traffic types that have caused disruptions in the past would be filtered out in the future.
The proxy firewall is as close to the actual physical barrier as possible. Unlike other types of firewalls, it acts as an intermediary between external networks and computers, preventing direct contact.
Like a door guard, it essentially looks at and evaluates incoming data. If no problem is detected, the data may be passed on to the user.
The downside to this kind of heavy security is that it sometimes interferes with incoming data that is not a threat, leading to functionality delays.
Evolving threats continue to call for more intensive solutions, and next-generation firewalls remain at the top of this issue by combining the features of traditional firewalls with network intrusion prevention systems.