There are times when you download a corrupt file in spite of having an antivirus. Well, an antivirus does prevent your system from getting infected. However, if you really want to prevent the entry of any kind of malware in your system, you need a firewall.
Today, you need to have both antivirus and firewall software for cybersecurity. That’s because while an antivirus suspects malware upon its entry, a firewall prevents the entry in the first place. Be it malware or intrusion of hackers into your system, it is only through a combination of the two applications that will keep your system safe.
What is a Firewall and How Does it Work?
A regular wall prevents the intrusion of trespassers inside a building, palace or country. Likewise, firewalls help you prevent the intrusion of malware, hackers, and other cyber threats into your system. In most cases, these cyber threats enter your network through the internet.
So, to be very precise, a firewall is a hardware device or software application that controls the flow of traffic coming from any external network (mostly the internet). It does so by detecting various threats in the files you want to download or sites that you wish to open. If they’re not secure, you won’t be able to download the file or open the site.
Here’s how it works:
- Whether in hardware or software form, a firewall has filters that help them prevent the intrusion of cyber threats into a network.
- The applications and devices are pre-programmed to identify any cyber threat that can enter the network or system.
- When a hacker tries to take control over your system or when malware tries intruding your system, it simply blocks it right there.
- You might be able to understand that it has been doing its work when you’re unable to download a corrupt or illegal file or open a spam site.
What is a Web Application Firewall?
A web application firewall or WAF controls HTTP traffic to or from a web app. By web applications, we mean apps like Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft 365 or Outlook. These are also prone to getting attacks from malware, hackers, and spam. Thus, a WAF provides specific protection to applications that you access through the web.
Why Do You Need a Firewall in Networking?
You possibly cannot have anything on your computer without the internet today. That’s because everything you use requires a network connection – be it running software, communicating with 3rd parties or storing large files.
Unfortunately, this is the route that malware and hackers take to attack your system too. So, here’s how firewalls can help you:
- It can prevent a virus, trojan horse or any other malware from entering your system.
- When combined with antivirus software, it performs even better.
- It prevents hackers from trying to enter into your system.
- Your privacy and security remain intact due to the presence of firewalls.
- The level of protection provided by firewalls is way higher than any antivirus application.
Open-Source Firewall Security Applications
Firewalls are available for free, paid subscriptions or one-time purchases in case of hardware. The free ones usually provide you with basic protection, appropriate for personal laptops and computers. Here are some of the open-source applications:
This open-source software has been gaining popularity and trust all over the world. It has a web-based interface and protects your network from various intrusions. You can also purchase the pfSense router that has a greater RAM, storage, and power.
This software is also based on FreeBSD and is in fact a fork of pfSense. Apart from being a strong firewall, it provides you with several other services like detecting and preventing malware intrusion, monitoring virtual private networking, web filtering, 2-factor authentication, routing protocols, and facilitating online documentation.
Developed by the Comodo group, it is the world’s most trusted firewall that comes with an antivirus. You can download it for free directly from the official website but there’s a paid version offering a higher level of security too. Some of the reasons why this app is popular is due to its user-friendly interface, simple to configure, DDP-based security, and getting personalized protection.
If you have a Windows XP or a higher version in your computer, you probably already have a firewall. I’m calling it free but it is actually a part of the package when you’re buying the operating system. Earlier, it was known as the “internet connection firewall”. Today, it’s a part of the Windows Defender that you get for free with Windows 10.
This is definitely free for you if you have Linux OS in your computer or laptop. It is easy to use and configure, is highly customizable, and provides a high level of protection.
Just like Windows and Linux, macOS also comes with its own inbuilt firewall. So, if you own a MacBook, all you have to do is go to the Apple Menu, select “System Preferences” and click on “Security and Privacy”. Here, you’ll get the option of turning on the firewall.
Paid Firewall Security Solutions
Usually, when software has both free and paid versions, it means that the latter provides an advanced level of security and features. Usually, you need them in big corporates where you have a bigger network to take care of.
Here are two good firewalls that have the capacity to protect the network of an entire company or institution:
This is a cloud-based firewall, that is ideal for schools, branch offices, retail, ICS, and SD-WAN. It is very convenient to use if you have a public cloud, private cloud, or a hybrid network. Featuring automated response, powerful monitoring of potential threats, and an intuitive VPN, it is very suitable if you wish to extend your network.
This is also a great choice to make if you need advanced protection for your corporate network. From small businesses to global business organizations, this application is suitable for all. It provides you with advanced gateway security services to prevent intrusion of virus, spyware, hackers, and other cyber threats.
Hardware Firewall Appliances You Can Purchase
Firewalls are also available in the form of routers, which we usually call the hardware firewall. You just need to connect the network cable to the router and the device does its job. Here are two firewall devices you can consider purchasing:
The FortiGate routers by Fortinet are known for having a sleek and compact design, providing excellent security solutions against all kinds of cyber threats. They’re more suitable for small and medium businesses as well as branch offices.
Cisco is known as one of the biggest networking hardware companies in the world. They have some amazing hardware firewall products too. This one is a high-performance security solution for teleworker environments, small organizations and branch offices, providing protection against spam and malware.
How to Choose Your Firewall Security Solution?
Choosing your firewall security solution isn’t that difficult. If the computer is meant for personal use, the inbuilt firewall provided by the operating system is enough. However, when it comes to organizations having a private network, it needs to be secured with a more advanced firewall application.
So, depending on the size of your network, your affordability, and the features provided by the firewall, you need to choose the software or hardware that is applicable to you.