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A firewall is one of the most common tools for protecting data and networks from cyber threats. We most commonly see them used in a corporate environment, particularly to block suspicious emails or information, but they’ve been around for decades and have continued to evolve from the form most people are familiar with. But how are firewalls used on a broader scale, and how do they protect your most important information? 


What is a Firewall?


A firewall is a software or hardware system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. It acts as a barrier between a trusted, secure network and an untrusted network, such as the internet. This is why most people know of firewalls in terms of their email, because email messaging is a significant entry point for malicious activity to come into contact with important data. 


Firewalls work by examining incoming and outgoing traffic and allowing or blocking it based on predetermined rules. These rules can be based on various criteria, such as the type of traffic, the source or destination of the traffic, and the port number. At its most simplistic level, think of it like a large scale junk mail folder – Depending on the rules and identifyers ofthe firewall, it can sort the acceptable data and information from the potentially harmful or suspicious. 


There are different types of firewalls, including network firewalls, host-based firewalls, and web application firewalls. Network firewalls are designed to protect an entire network, while host-based firewalls are installed on individual devices. Web application firewalls are specifically designed to protect web applications from attacks.


Regardless of the type of firewall you may decide to use, they’re a simple yet effective way to keep out hackers and malicious software that may threaten your information systems. 


Benefits of Firewalls


One of the main benefits of firewalls is that they can block unauthorized access to a network or device that may result in a leak of sensitive or personal information, as well as prevent malware and other malicious software from entering a network. Firewalls can also help to protect against type of attack known as denial of service (or DoS), which are designed to overwhelm a network or device with traffic. More sophisticated versions of the traditional firewall can also serve some of the same functions as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt and protect your data on a more complete level.


Staying Up to Date


It’s important to regularly update and maintain firewalls to ensure that they are effective against the latest threats, as hackers and malicious software are constantly evolving and learning new techniques to steal or damage your stored information. Updates should include installing updates and patches as well as configuring the firewall rules to match your specific security needs.

Another way to ensure your data security is up-to-scratch is by working with a security-focused IT team or an in-house IT team with your colocated data center. Professionals who are well-versed in the current security threats and available solutions will be able to customize a data security structure that makes the most sense for your specific organization and the level of protection you’re looking for. To learn more, reach out to our team here at Rack59 for more information!