Firewall 101: What it is, What it does, Why you need it.

If you spend time talking to any IT person about your business network, they are going to ask you about your firewall. It is a basic component of any organization’s computer network, and essential for a company to have.

But what exactly is a firewall? What does it do? Why is it so important? In this post we’re going to help you understand the basics of a firewall so that you can understand why it is important for your business.

What is a firewall?

In really simple terms, a firewall is the device that helps protect your network from dangerous things on the internet (hackers, viruses, etc.).

Why is it called a firewall?

This name comes from the physical firewalls that exist within buildings. A firewall is a barrier within the construction of a building that helps to prevent the spread of a fire within that building. To learn more about physical firewalls, click here.

In the same way that these physical firewalls are used to keep fires from spreading within a building, a virtual firewall is used to keep dangerous content from spreading throughout your network.

How does a firewall work?

Basically, when you set up a firewall for your network, you are installing a first line of defense for internet surfing. Everything that is sent out, or comes in, to your network has to get past the firewall first. You set up the parameters for the firewall, so that it knows what is not allowed in or out of your network.

For example, you can set up your firewall to block access to websites containing content about guns and firearms. Then, if someone in your organization tries to access a website that contains any of that information while they are on the network, the firewall will block them and not allow them to visit the website.

What are your resposibilities for your firewall?

When your firewall is first installed for your network, make sure you review the settings with your IT support. You want to make sure that all the basic safety settings are in place, and you also should check to make sure that any other custom parameters you want to add in are in place as well.

Next, make sure to let everyone in your organization know what the parameters are that are in place. The more information your employees have, the less likely they are to click on the wrong thing and wind up with a virus.

Finally, make sure your firewall settings stay updated. It is a good idea to sit down with your IT support every year and review the settings to make sure they are all still applicable and to add in any more that are needed.

A word of caution!

Firewalls are the first line of defense, but they are by no means foolproof. They won’t be able to stop every single virus from ever getting onto your network, and they won’t be able to stop a user every single time they send out sensitive information over the internet.

Your best defense against hackers and viruses is always EDUCATION. Make sure every person in your company knows what links they need to avoid clicking on, how to identify a phishing email, and what information they need to protect.

And, to help you with this, we’ve put together this handy e-book that will teach users all about how to be a safe and smart internet surfer.

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