How do firewalls work?
There are multiple types of firewalls, each using a different approach to traffic filtering. First generation firewalls worked as packet filters, comparing basic information such as original source and destination of the packet, the port being used, or the protocol against a predefined list of rules.
Second generation comprised the so-called stateful firewalls, which added another parameter to the filter setup, namely connection state. Based on this information, the technology could determine if the packet was starting the connection, was a part of an existing connection or wasn’t involved at all.
What are the benefits of using a firewall?
The biggest benefit for users is enhanced security. By using a firewall you set up a security perimeter that can help to protect your computer or network from harmful incoming traffic.
This technology can also filter harmful outgoing traffic. By doing this it lowers the chance of undetected data exfiltration by a malicious insider as well as reduces the risk that the devices behind the firewall will become a part of a botnet - a large group of internet-connected devices enslaved by the attackers for malevolent purposes.
Firewalls are especially beneficial for companies with networks consisting of several internet-connected endpoints. If the firewall is properly set up at the edge of such network, it creates a single point of entry where some of the incoming threats can be identified and mitigated.
It also separates the company’s internal systems from the public internet, and thus creates a protected environment where data can flow more freely and more securely.