How a firewall helps in protecting against incoming threats:
A firewall is a software or hardware-based network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. Think of it as a gatekeeper that determines which traffic is allowed access and which should be blocked. By enforcing security policies, firewalls help mitigate the risks associated with unauthorized access, malicious threats, and data breaches.
- Traffic Filtering: Firewalls examine network traffic packets based on predefined rules. These rules can include criteria such as the source and destination IP addresses, port numbers, protocols, and specific application signatures. The firewall compares incoming packets against these rules and either allows or blocks them based on the configured criteria. This filtering helps prevent unauthorized access and blocks potentially malicious traffic.
- Access Control: Firewalls can enforce access control policies to allow or deny specific types of network connections. For example, they can restrict inbound connections to only essential services and ports while blocking or limiting unnecessary or potentially dangerous protocols or ports. This prevents attackers from directly accessing vulnerable services on your network.
- Stateful Packet Inspection: Firewalls can perform stateful packet inspection (SPI), which means they keep track of the state of network connections. By monitoring the state of network sessions, the firewall can identify and allow only legitimate incoming packets that are part of an established or related connection. This helps prevent unauthorized access attempts that may bypass simple packet filtering rules.
- Intrusion Detection/Prevention: Some advanced firewalls incorporate intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS). These systems monitor network traffic patterns and use various techniques to identify potential attacks or suspicious activities. When an attack is detected, the firewall can take action, such as blocking the attacker’s IP address or alerting network administrators.
Virtual Private Network (VPN): Firewalls often include VPN functionality, allowing secure remote access to a private network over the Internet. VPNs use encryption to create a secure tunnel between the remote user and the network, protecting data from interception or tampering.