Understand what a firewall is and what its functions are

Understand what a firewall is and what its functions are

Abraão Almeida
Abraão Almeida

Tabela de conteúdos

This article will deal with another one of those very common concepts in the IT field that everyone has heard about but few people know what it really is. Do you know what a firewall is?

When it comes to digital security, the firewall is considered one of the most important tools for data protection.

And data protection is one of the most important issues today, due to the appearance of so many applications every day and the many devices connected to them.

In this context, the number of cybercriminals also grows and the ways in which they attack vary, becoming more and more elaborate.

The firewall is one of those responsible for counteracting these attempts to intercept data in companies.

In the next topics, you will understand what a firewall is, its function, its importance, its benefits and the risks you run when not using it.

Also, we'll talk about firewall types, the difference between traditional firewall and managed firewall, and how to choose the best firewall for your business.

In other words, in addition to knowing what a firewall is, this article will clarify other recurring doubts about the subject. And that's why you have to pay attention to each topic.

What is a firewall?

Do you know how to define in a few words what a firewall is? The concept is not complicated: it is software that blocks unauthorized access to a private network.

In the concrete world, the expression “firewall”, translated as “fire wall”, corresponds to a partition designed to prevent fire from spreading in buildings before the arrival of firefighters.

But going back to the understanding of what firewall is in the virtual world, it has been around since the 1980s and can be used to improve the security of devices connected to a network.

It is clear that over the years firewall software has been improved, not least because it needs to prevent the increasingly specialized onslaught of cybercriminals.

Unlike what happens in the real world, instead of preventing the "fire" from spreading, the firewall blocks the entry of "fire" coming from outside the network.

In this case, fire corresponds to cyber attacks. Hence the relevance that the firewall has when we talk about information security.

The firewall is not solely responsible for network security, but it is an essential part of a defense structure that every company must have.

In practice, the firewall program separates the equipment from the internet through a “code wall”, which analyzes network users as they approach it.

This analysis defines whether users will be able to break through the wall.

Why is the firewall so important?

Once you understand what a firewall is, you may have already noticed how important it is to keep your company's network secure.

But, to make it even clearer, let's present another metaphor for the firewall in the outside world: it's responsible for locking the doors and windows of your house, which corresponds to your network.

Therefore, not using the firewall corresponds to keeping the doors and windows of your house open, leaving it subject to all types of invaders.

The danger is huge because your home (network) is in a big city (internet) and full of criminals (cybercriminals).

What are firewall types?

Now that you know what a firewall is and its importance, we can talk about firewall types. See below for four possible classifications.

  • Proxy firewall: acts as an intermediary between the internal network and another network, preventing direct communication between source and destination and allowing an analysis of the packet flow;
  • State inspection firewall: blocks or allows access according to state, port and protocol, monitoring all activities, from the beginning to the closing of the connection;
  • UTM: unified threat management firewall that unites state inspection firewall functions with threat prevention such as viruses;
  • NGFW: It's called next-generation firewall, it can block more modern threats like advanced viruses and application layer attacks.

What are the benefits of using the firewall?

See below for the main advantages of using a firewall to protect your network and, consequently, your company's data.

  • Maintenance of data integrity;
  • Full-time connectivity;
  • Improved productivity of company employees by blocking websites that can distract their attention from work;
  • Greater control of access to information;
  • Maintenance of network integrity;
  • Malware protection.

What are the risks of not using the firewall?

If you understand what a firewall is and still think you don't need it, see below some of the risks your company runs if you choose not to use it.

  • Data compromise;
  • Subjection to cybercriminal attacks;
  • Compromise of network integrity;
  • Decrease in productivity, when employees access, for example, social networks;
  • Uncontrolled authorization to access information.

What is the difference between traditional firewall and managed firewall?

We can say that the managed firewall is more robust and therefore more suitable for business.

The traditional firewall may rely on an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) or an Intrusion Detection System (IDS).

The managed firewall integrates these two systems, while the traditional one uses them in a separate device.

In fact, the functionality is the same, however performance and data accessibility are superior on the managed firewall.

It also does a much deeper inspection, gathering information and preventing intrusions.

Finally, it should be said that the managed firewall also recognizes users to release or block them, for example.

The managed version of the firewall is provided by specialized companies, which administer the tool and ensure that it is always fully operational.

This way, when hiring one of these companies, you don't need to invest in equipment and also don't need to form an internal team to manage the firewall.

How to choose the best firewall?

Before choosing the firewall that will be used in your company, it is necessary to think about the internal reality and its needs.

Your company may have specific demands that will determine the firewall setting, but generally speaking, we recommend that you take the following steps:

  • Look for information about the developer company: research the company's history, see what its customers say about it and if it has complaints in Procon or Reclame Aqui. Also, make sure it offers technical support;
  • Know if the need is for a hardware or software firewall: if your employees use desktops to work, the recommendation is the hardware firewall, but if they use notebooks or other devices, the ideal is the software firewall. Using both options is also a good idea;
  • Choose the most suitable firewall type: see which of the four available firewall types is best suited for your company profile. The software must have a data transfer capability that matches your demand.

If you've made it this far, you're certainly well informed not only about what a firewall is, but also about its importance for your company's digital security.And since the subject is security, we recommend that you also read our article on monitoring and security, to deepen your knowledge in the area. Until the next article!

Junte-se à conversa.