Original release date: September 10, 2018
When your computer is accessible through an internet connection or Wi-Fi network, it is susceptible to attack. However, you can restrict outside access to your computer—and the information on it—with a firewall.
What do firewalls do?
Firewalls provide protection against outside attackers by shielding your computer or network from malicious or unnecessary network traffic. Firewalls can also prevent malicious software from accessing a computer or network via the internet. Firewalls can be configured to block data from certain locations (i.e., computer network addresses), applications, or ports while allowing relevant and necessary data through.
What type of firewall is best?
Categories of firewalls include hardware and software. While both have advantages and disadvantages, the decision to use a firewall is more important than deciding which type you use.
Most commercially available firewall products, both hardware and software based, come pre-configured and ready to use. Since each firewall is different, you will need to read and understand the documentation that comes with it to determine whether the default firewall settings are sufficient for your needs. This is particularly concerning because the “default” configuration is typically less restrictive, which could make your firewall more susceptible to compromise. Alerts about current malicious activity sometimes include information about restrictions you can implement through your firewall.
Though properly configured firewalls may effectively block some attacks, do not be lulled into a false sense of security. Firewalls do not guarantee that your computer will not be attacked. Firewalls primarily help protect against malicious traffic, not against malicious programs (i.e., malware), and may not protect you if you accidentally install or run malware on your computer. However, using a firewall in conjunction with other protective measures (e.g., anti-virus software and safe computing practices) will strengthen your resistance to attacks.
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