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What is a firewall and how can it help my organization?

November 16th, 2022 | 3 min. read

By Jordan Pioth

Person drinking coffee while working on a laptop

No one wants to be a victim of a cyberattack. If you do not have the right network security tools implemented into your network, you could end up being a victim of a cyberattack which can cost you a significant amount of time and money.

Network security is one of the most important and fastest-growing industries due to how increasingly vulnerable the internet has become. Without the proper security tools in place, you could be at risk of a cyberattack without even knowing.

Coeo has helped secure the networks of thousands of customers and knows how frustrating it can be to be a victim of a cyberattack. We want to make sure you have all of the information you need to make sure your network is constantly protected.

By the end of this article, you will know what a firewall is, how it works, and four ways it can help protect your network.

What is a firewall?

Firewalls work like a fence surrounding your network to protect it from outside malicious sources. A firewall is essentially the first line of defense when it comes to your network and has been for the last 25 years.

A firewall monitors incoming and outgoing traffic and decides to allow or block traffic based on a set of security rules set up for you or your team. Firewalls establish a barrier between secured, trusted internal networks and untrusted outside networks.

A trusted internal network is usually a private network that is secured by various network security tools. An untrusted external network is a public network such as the internet which anyone can access from anywhere on any device.

Contrary to popular belief, however, a firewall is not supposed to be set up once and forgotten about. Firewalls must be maintained and managed with updates and periodic upgrades to remain effective. 

You can have a regular firewall, managed by you or your IT team, or a managed firewall managed by a service provider.

With a managed firewall, your service provider monitors and updates the firewall for you and suggests upgrades whenever necessary.

How a firewall works

A firewall creates a border between your guarded network and an external network such as the internet. Firewalls act as a nonstop filter that examines data looking to enter your network.

With a firewall, each piece of data that enters and leaves your network gets inspected and filtered.

Once the inspection is complete, a firewall can differentiate between genuine traffic and malicious actors with the help of a set of pre-configured rules and will block any traffic that is deemed malicious.

The rules that firewalls use to determine if data is malicious or not are based on the data the firewall pulls about the traffic such as their source, destination, and content.

If a firewall detects that the data entering or leaving is malicious, it is then blocked from entering the network.

While this is fairly universal when it comes to how firewalls work and operate, there are different firewalls that work differently, some using a variety of techniques.

4 ways a firewall can help protect your network

A firewall can help protect your network in a few different ways. The four main ways a firewall can help your organization such as antivirus assistance, real-time monitoring, web filtering, and application control.

●      Antivirus assistance

A firewall acts as an assistant to the firewall protecting your network against cyberattacks that bypass your antivirus software.

If your antivirus software allows a malicious source to slip through the cracks, your firewall will catch it in the filtering process and block it from entering your network.

●      Real-time monitoring

Another way a firewall can help your organization is through real-time filtering. Not all firewalls can do this but real-time firewalls can filter traffic as it tries to enter your network in real-time and block data that is deemed malicious.

●      Web filtering

Firewalls can also protect your network by web filtering. This is a feature that helps protect your network’s inbound traffic, the traffic coming from the internet to your computer.

All data accessed through the web will be subject to web filtering with any malicious data being blocked by the firewall. This malicious data can include infected downloads, phishing web pages, malicious websites, and cyberattacks.

●      Application control

While web filtering handles the inbound protection of your network, application control handles the outbound protection.

A firewall uses the application control feature to handle the permissions of the programs in your network based on trustworthiness.

Firewalls let users allow or block specific applications from connecting to the internet. If a firewall deems it unsafe, the application will not be allowed to connect to the internet.

The user can also set rules when it comes to important data such as customer contracts, so that it may never reach the public internet. This ensures that your important data will always be safe and out of the hands of the wrong people.

Some programs can be used to download malicious content to your network or can send your information to malicious web servers. The application control feature can also check if a suspicious program is using your internet connection and block them.

Next steps to securing your network

Now you know what a firewall is, how it works, and four ways it can help protect your network. This will give you an idea of just how important cybersecurity tools like firewalls are.

If you do not know what a firewall is, how it works, or how it can help you, you may be overlooking the importance of such a valuable tool.

Firewalls are the first line of defense when it comes to protecting your network and without one in your network, you could be leaving your network vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

If you would like to speak with our team to learn more about firewalls or ask any questions you may have you can schedule an appointment. TALK TO AN EXPERT

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Jordan Pioth

When he's not creating content for Coeo, Jordan loves to watch sports, hang out with friends and family, and anything sneaker-related.