In a computer network, a firewall’s primary task is to prevent unauthorized connections and viruses from entering your network. If an outside network, user, or program wants to access your computer, it sends a request. If you have a firewall, the firewall tests the request, compares it to a list of approved connectors, and takes an action based on the status of the request and the firewall’s specific programming.
There are two types of firewalls: hardware and software. They both have the same job, but they do it differently. It’s important to understand the difference in order to best protect your New Jersey business:
Hardware: A hardware firewall is a physical piece of equipment installed between your network and your modem. All incoming information passes through it. It analyses the information and decides what gets in and where it goes. While many broadband modems include a firewall, they are not normally sophisticated enough or sufficiently customizable for businesses that have grown beyond a few users. Hardware firewalls generally require expert installation and configuration.
Software: Software firewalls are programs installed on each computer, or on a server inside your network. They can tell the difference between programs and can allow data for one and not the other.
Does Your Business Need a Firewall?
Everyone who accesses the internet needs a firewall of some kind. Without one, your computer will allow access to anyone asking and open up your data to hackers more easily. The good news is that both Windows and Apple computers now come with built-in software firewalls (although the Mac’s firewall is turned off by default).
But businesses, especially those with multiple users or those that keep sensitive data, typically need firewalls that are more robust, more customizable, and offer better reporting than these consumer-grade alternatives.
Even a relatively small business engages in exponentially more interactions than an individual, with multiple users and workstations, and customers and suppliers. These days most of those interactions are online and is at risk.
Not only are businesses exposed to riskier online interactions, the potential damage from each interaction is also greater. Businesses frequently keep everything from competitive bids and marketing plans to sensitive banking and customer data on their computers. Unprotected, the exposure is enormous.
Firewalls also allow computers outside of your network to securely connect to the servers that are inside your network. This is critical for employees who work remotely.