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 Firewalls - What are firewalls and why should I use one?

If you started talking about firewalls back in 1996, most home users would not know what you where talking about. With the sudden wide spread availability of trojans, especially with trojans like netbus and back orifice, home users had to rapidly change the way they viewed computer security.

These days most people have heard of firewalls but a lot of people do not actually know what they do. Some people also assume that the firewall that comes with their operating system is adequate to protect them from trojans, hackers and viruses. They could not be further from the truth.

So What Exactly is a Firewall? Think of a firewall as a security guard standing at a gate. The security guard checks peoples identification and looks on his list of allowed visitors. If you do not have the correct credentials and or not on the list then you are blocked from entering.

A firewall works in the same way. A user can make rules as to what connections, programs and processes are allowed to run and or connect to the internet. This provides the home user with absolute security and a good firewall can actually stop malware infections from even occurring.


Hardware or Software Firewalls?
If you are using a router to connect to broadband internet chances are you are being protected by a hardware firewall. Hardware firewalls are great for blocking incoming and outgoing malicious traffic but they generally are not set up to stop malicious applications from being installed. Hardware firewalls built into routers will protect all the computers connected to it and not just an individual computer the way a software firewall would

Software firewalls are an essential part of all home users arsenal of security tools. Software firewalls can sometimes offer protection that hardware firewalls can not. Software firewalls often incorporate behavior based malicious application blocking. In other words software firewalls can block programs from actually running rather then block them from connecting to a network or the internet.


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