Why a firewall is needed (An Ultimate Guide)

why a firewall is needed
Why a firewall is needed

With the increased use of internet-equipped devices (wireless + wired), it has become very much essential to take proper steps and use proper tools to protect our devices from various cyber security threats. And with that said, a firewall system is something that needs to be installed on every device you own. Although, many people are still skeptical about this system. So, if you are someone who wants to know “why a firewall is needed?”, then just follow this article till the end.

Why a firewall is needed?

A firewall is an important cyber security tool that helps to filter out good and bad traffic from your network, thus lessening the chances of your device getting affected by malicious traffic. 

Now, if you are thinking about why you need it, then let me explain it to you straight away. 

Imagine this situation, you own an online business, a small one maybe, and have a quite decent number of team members who are managing your official database. Now, what if some bad actor aka an attacker tries to inject malware inside your system through your network traffic, and then successfully steals your company’s data?

It will be a whole lot of mess, right?

Well, this is where an active firewall system whether it be hardware, or a software-based one, comes into the picture. The firewall system will automatically restrict the malicious type of traffic on your network. It will instantly filter out the non-permitted traffic from your network. Thus, saving you from a huge financial loss, burnt reputation, and even fines from authorities.

Fact: Around 60% of the small businesses, shut down its operation within 6 months of a cyber-attack. 

Why?

Because, (a) The damage is at a huge level which will take a lot of time and money, and (b) A small business can’t afford both factors.

Therefore, always go for a properly configured, maintained, and monitored firewall that will protect your data, network, and devices.

Not to mention, always look out for those firewall systems which can very well manage encrypted as well as non-encrypted internet traffic without losing the actual speed of your internet as well as compromising your device security. 

Plus, if you have a dedicated IT team or IT support partner, then they can be a real help in managing as well as updating the firewall system regularly.

What if I am an individual? Do I still need a firewall?

Whether you are an individual or a company, every device that is connected to an active internet connection must be protected with a firewall system, because you seriously don’t want your private data to be captured by some unknown individual.

Now, for the best part, if you use a single device for internet connectivity, then you don’t even need to purchase a firewall system separately because many computer devices as well as Wi-fi routers come with pre-installed software-based firewall systems inside it. 

But what if your device doesn’t have it? Don’t worry, just opt for an antivirus software like Avast or Kaspersky that comes with a preloaded Firewall system.

How does Firewall work?

Consider this scenario, a company organizes a party that is strictly limited to “Only invited Employees.” It has hired bouncers who have been given strict instructions to only allow those employees who have a legitimate entry pass. 

Now, the bouncers will ask each and every employee to show their entry pass at the entry point so that they can confirm its legitimacy and allow them in. If someone who doesn’t have a valid entry pass tries to enter the party, he/she will be blocked by those bouncers, thus saving the party from being sabotaged.

So, if we consider this example, a firewall can be considered as the bouncer, and data packets as employees, which will only allow those data packets which meet the pre-established rules, while blocking the others.

Although, there could be instances where legitimate incoming website traffic or application can be blocked by a firewall because of the change in permissions. So, to unblock it, you only need to click on a window that says “Allow exception”, and it will be instantly allowed by the firewall.

Types of firewalls:

The firewall can be classified into three main categories, and they are;

Hardware Firewall: A hardware-based firewall is a physical router-type appliance that is placed between your network and gateway.

Software Firewall: A software-based firewall is a type of software-based program that is installed on a device and works through port numbers and applications.

Cloud-Based Firewall: As the name suggests, a cloud-based firewall is a type of firewall that solely runs on the cloud, and keeps growing with your organization, similar to a hardware firewall.

Although, if we were to categorize firewalls based on structure and functionality, then the following are the main types:

Packet filtering firewall:

Packet-filtering firewall is a type of management program that can block network traffic IP protocol, IP address, and Port number. It is one of the most basic types of firewall protection, so it is suitable for small businesses.

Although this type of firewall comes with a small limitation, and that is, it allows all web traffic, meaning it doesn’t block web-based attacks. As a result, you will need some additional protection to distinguish between legitimate and malicious web traffic.

Proxy service firewall:

A proxy service firewall is a type of firewall that acts as a middle man or guard between your internal and external servers on the web. This system can help protect your network by filtering out the messages at the application layer. It is more secure in its use with its stateful and deep packet inspection technology to examine incoming traffic.

Stateful Multi-Layer Inspection (SMLI) firewall:

This type of firewall has standard firewall capabilities that keep track of your established connections. It filters out the traffic, based on state, ports, and protocols, along with administrator-defined rules and context. The process involves using data from prior connections and packets from the same connection.

Moreover, it is a step ahead of packet-filtering in its use of multi-layer monitoring. But there is a tiny problem, and that is, it is unable to distinguish between good and bad traffic. Therefore, you may need additional software for it.

Next-generation firewall:

The next-generation firewall has more levels of security that goes beyond the standard packet-filtering in order to inspect an entire packet. Thus, it can be considered more sophisticated than packet-filtering and stateful inspection firewalls. Moreover, a next-generation firewall can inspect not just the packet header, but also the packet’s content and source. It is also able to tackle more advanced and evolving cyber security threats, like malware.

Unified threat management firewall:

A unified threat management firewall is a type of firewall program which combines the functionality of the SMLI firewall along with intrusion prevention and antivirus protection. Additionally, services like cloud management may be included under the umbrella of services. 

Virtual firewall:

A virtual firewall is a type of firewall used to manage and assess the internet traffic over both physical and virtual networks. Also, it can be used in a private as well as a public cloud-based system.

Network address translation firewall:

A network address translation firewall also known as NAT can analyze internet traffic, and block unrequested communications.

To put it in simple words, it only accepts inbound web traffic, if and only if the device on your private network has requested it.

Perks of installing a firewall system.

If you are still not convinced about why a firewall is a crucial element for your online privacy, then let me give you a list of perks that can be gained via installing a firewall system on your network.

Protects against remote login:

Hackers can use tools to remotely log in to our devices, control them, and install spyware or any kind of malicious software to steal information that they need. Therefore, make sure you install a firewall that will help protect your device from any kind of unauthorized access via the internet.

Prevents email session hijacking:

If you are running a business, then you know how “email” plays an important role to notify your customers about your products or services.

But what if, a cybercriminal gets unauthorized access to your SMTP server? 

Well, in that case, they can easily send spam or malicious emails to your clients or contacts via your email server, which in turn can sabotage your reputation, and cause your clients to lose faith in your brand. 

So, always install a firewall system on your network and preserve the trust that your client has in your company.

Protects you from viruses:

We all know how viruses can damage most parts of the devices, monitor our activity, slow down the device, or delete/lock/crash a device. Not to mention, these bad boys can easily spread through compromised email or networks.

Although, if you have a firewall installed, then it will block viruses before they can penetrate your network, thus protecting your device from getting infected with malicious software.

Firewall Vs Antivirus | Key Differe...
Firewall Vs Antivirus | Key Differences Between Firewall and Antivirus (2021)

Prevents malicious macros:

Every application that runs on your device has a set of macro rules or patterns, and these rules or patterns decide how your application will function. 

But unfortunately, it is vulnerable to attacks, because cybercriminals can create such macro rules or patterns, that can tell your application to perform malicious acts such as deleting files/folders or crashing the entire system.

Therefore, having a strong firewall system that can prevent various malicious attacks is a must.

Prevents application and operating system’s back door vulnerability:

Few applications can contain some bugs or features that can help a cybercriminal in getting remote access to your network. It can also directly give the cybercriminal access to the program and your data. But, having a firewall system by your side can easily knock out this vulnerability and ensure app security.

Prevents Denial of service attack:

A Denial-of-service attack is carried out by a hacker with the intention to slow down or crash a specific server. To explain it simply, a hacker or attacker sends a huge number of requests to a specific server using botnets. Now, when a server gets flooded with so many requests, it tries to fulfill them all and eventually slows down or crashes completely. 

But, when there is a firewall installed on your network, it filters out such mischievous requests, thus ensuring that your server won’t get bogged down with unwanted requests.

Prevents email bombs:

Similar to a Denial-of-service attack, a hacker can bomb a particular email address with constant emails, that can cause a server to crash. 

So, to avoid it, a firewall is your go-to tool.

Prevents access to unauthorized websites:

Are you running a company, and are concerned about your employees visiting unauthorized websites like pornography websites or gambling websites?

Well, then a firewall can help you in this situation. By using a firewall, you can block such websites from your network, which can also help in preventing the download of malicious software, that can damage your system.

Makes online gaming safer:

With the increase in the popularity of online gaming, people have started using their devices to connect to the game servers and play them. But, with the online factor, there comes a great risk of malware attack. 

Therefore, to protect yourself from such attacks while gaming, a firewall should be installed on your device or network. A firewall system effectively blocks away any attempts done by hackers to use their malware on your system, thus leaving your system secure.

Final Remarks on “why a firewall is needed?”

So, after this long discussion, it can be clearly said that a firewall is a really helpful tool when it comes to protecting your devices from vulnerable internet traffic that can harm your devices in various ways. 

Therefore, no matter what, always try installing a firewall system (hardware or software) on your devices or network.