The ramifications of cybercrime can be far-reaching. Depending on the size of the attack, entire countries can be affected if their critical infrastructure is targeted. The vast majority of security breaches start within the perimeter and most internet attacks are socially engineered. Unwittingly trusting any email or web request from an unknown sender creates a potential danger for those organizations that depend on the Internet for their business functions. Setting up an effective firewall can prevent many, if not all, of these internet attacks.
To ensure the security of sensitive information, private and public sectors have implemented a strong security measure – virtual firewalls.
Firewalls are a system resource that has been used since the root of the internet. It is another component that helps prevent cyber-attacks and theft of information in any computing device. It works by inspecting each packet of information that travels between a protected computer and the larger network (the Internet, an ISP, or a company’s network) and deciding whether the packet should be let through.
They are designed to protect computers from hackers, spies, and other intruders by controlling access to the network. Intruders come in many forms: script kiddies, cyber terror organizations, government-sponsored attackers, industrial spies, corporate spies, the l. They also help to control and regulate the incoming and outgoing internet data packets, encrypt the information and grant or reject access to a specific program by logging each event.
Firewalls can be used to create clusters, network bridges etc. and to prevent larger systems like BitTorrent from eating your bandwidth or track and trace Internet communications. They form a secure connection between a network or computers internal zone (intranet) with external zones (internet).
Firewalls are traditionally placed inline across a network connection and look for malicious traffic. They figure out whether a packet is part of an attack or a network protocol, and they do this by monitoring every single packet that passes through them.
The thing that separates a firewall from the other tools is that it has ‘stateful packet inspection.’ Security professionals tend to make a distinction between stateless packet-filtering firewalls and more advanced application layer firewalls. A stateless firewall will examine each packet in isolation, whereas an application-layer firewall will consider multiple packets together, looking for session characteristics.
Conventional firewall technologies can be divided into Packet-filtering Firewalls, Circuit-level Gateways, Application-level Gateways (Proxy Firewalls), Stateful Multilayer Inspection (SMLI) Firewalls, Next-generation Firewalls (NGFW), Threat-focused NGFW, Network Address Translation (NAT) Firewalls, Cloud Firewalls, Unified Threat Management (UTM) Firewalls.
Here are a few more reasons why you should use a firewall:
- Avert unauthorised remote logins and backdoor vulnerabilities: If you browse unsecured websites, there are ways for cybercriminals to remotely monitor your devices. This can result in loss of privacy, potentially leading to identity theft and fraud. What makes it so hard to secure a network is not that the attackers use complex hacks that no one understands, but the fact that everyone on the same network can read and modify the internals of your system. Intruders exploit this openness by planting backdoor attacks.
- Email Spams, Viruses, Malicious Macros: Macros are old-fashioned instructions used to hack your application and crash the entire system. An effective firewall will protect your email server from being bombarded with huge amounts of email and viruses. It will allow you to hold on to your emails while blocking unsolicited content from impacting your efficiency.
- Gaming Sessions on Insecure Servers: Firewalls allow you to protect yourself from hackers trying to exploit game vulnerabilities. They use metadata or a set protocol to decide how to block hackers from using viruses to send malware your way.
- Inappropriate Content: If you want to stop your children from wandering into the seedier parts of the Internet, content filtering can help. You can block websites that offer pirated content or have sexually explicit content. When used on a corporate network, it can also be used to block access to competitor company sites or sites that are dangerous for other reasons.
In addition to the above mentioned reasons, firewalls are also efficient in gateway defence, shielding NAT (internal network addresses), preventing Denial of Service attacks, delineating threats and suspicious activities and effectuating security policies.
It’s common to find bandwidth-restrictive firewalls, which control traffic volume. This helps prevent users from downloading too much. More sophisticated firewalls have another option, a proxy network link that can be used by any program on the computer. Proxies are most often used as network gateways for HTTPS.
Firewalls invented in the early 1990s to protect networks and computers from intrusions and malevolent hackers have developed into a cornerstone of network security. But they aren’t impregnable. A new wave of technology is coming that promises to render firewalls obsolete, although an upcoming patch to address the vulnerabilities of firewall can help companies buy some time for the transition. The Firewalls have stood the test of time and proved to be impenetrable armour against digital bullets.