Why You Need A Firewall

Okechukwu Solomon March 17, 2017 EDITEdit
If your computer is connected to the internet (which is just about all systems nowadays), then you are potentially a target for hackers, key loggers, Trojan viruses and various other malicious activity. If you’re someone who likes to shop or bank online, then you’re also venerable to identity theft.

This is where the firewall comes into play, as protection between your computer system and the internet. When your computer is patched into the internet, it is constantly sending and receiving data which is referred to as packets. The firewalls job is to filter these packets to ensure that they meet the required criteria while allowing and blocking were applicable. This ultimately prevents hackers from gaining access to your system, which they will in turn use to steal confidential data.

why you need a firewall

A System without Firewall Protection

If you do a clean install of Windows 7, for example, and attempt to access the internet, without updating it with the latest service packs, it’ll almost certainly be attacked. The attacks will start from the open ports, which will be used to send you unsolicited popup messages, viruses, worms and Trojan horses will also find their way onto your system, essentially clogging up your browser window.

There have been several tests conducted using this very same scenario. In these tests, the system accessed the internet unprotected and was attacked within 3 hours of surfing the web. Having a firewall on your computer would prevent the vast majority of these attacks.

Even if your operating system is up-to-date with the latest service packs and updates, not having a firewall on your computer means a hacker will eventually find their way onto your system. If they are able to get a Trojan horse onto your computer, then they’ll use that to gain access to it.

How Do Firewalls Protect You

The vast majority of firewall programs, like the one that comes preinstalled with Windows, will alert the user to any suspicious incoming traffic. Any user attempting to gain unauthorised access to your computer will be confronted by the firewall. The firewall will block the attack and then notify you about it. However, the very best firewall programs are capable of warning you about suspicious outgoing traffic. So the best firewalls, which you should want to invest in, will do both, warn you about incoming and outgoing traffic.

Types of Firewalls

There are two different kinds of firewalls, both of which are related, but work in different ways. These are hardware firewalls and software firewalls.
  • A hardware firewall will be built into your router, which sits between your computer and the World Wide Web. When you connect more computers to this router, they will all be protected by the built in firewall.
  • A software firewall on the other hand, is essentially a program that you install on a computer system. These software tools will block certain vulnerable ports, block malicious attacks and warn the end users about any suspicious traffic. Depending on how many computers you have on a network which all has access to the internet, you’d want to install software firewall on all of them. Unlike with hardware firewall, software firewall only protects the system the software is installed on.

Which Type Of Firewall Should I Get?

If you have a wireless router in your house, then I’d say it’s safe to assume you already have a firewall. All you need to do is ensure that the firewall feature is turned on, which you can do in its configuration settings. Once you are sure the hardware firewall is turned on, you can then install software firewall on each computer that is connected to the router.

If you do not use a router to connect to the internet, then you’ll definitely need to acquire some software firewall. There are many internet security suites that you can invest in, all of which come with firewalls as standard. So make sure you have that on your system, in the event that you do not, there are many standalone, free firewall programs that you can download, many of which are pretty high grade. ZoneAlarm is one of such that comes to mind when the issue of firewalls is raised.

What Firewalls Cannot Do

One thing you should keep in mind is that firewalls are limited and thus, unable to protect you from everything.

A firewalls main task is to protect your system from malicious attacks via port connections on your computer. However, a firewall cannot protect your computer from things that you unknowingly install on your system, whether it’s via an email attachment or software download.

That said protecting your system from port attacks will always remain a priority as long as you have a computer system.


Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website where he writes extensively on computer related issues and topics.up

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