Hardware Firewall and Software

Whether you’re working for a large company or you have a small network connection at home, it’s impossible that you haven’t heard the term “firewall”. Basically firewalls keep offensive and destructive information off your PC, protecting you from viruses, hackers or offensive web content.

Regarding companies, the most important issue about firewalls, is that it gives the company owners much more control over what their employees are doing on the Internet, thus preventing them from leaving security holes open that can damage that particular PC or the local area network inside the company. A firewall can be “told” to stop all ftp connections from that network or PC, all telnet connections or visit particular sites.

There are two types of firewalls, software programs or hardware devices, but both variants have the same goal: to filter and sort the information that comes from the Internet, into your PC or your local network. If any information package doesn’t pass the filters, it won’t be allowed to go further by the firewall.

Software Firewall

Software firewalls are small programs that are found on every modern operating system or anti-virus, but they can be found as stand-alone items too. Software firewalls usually provide enough security for a single PC or for a small local network. If you have set a firewall in a small network, the computer that provides access to the Internet is also known as the Gateway Computer, meaning that it’s the gateway between the Internet and the local network.

If your PC connects directly to the Internet, then it is the gateway, because it provides the only point of access between your home network and the Internet. Software firewalls are sufficient for a gateway that handles 1 to 10 – 20 PC’s but they are not enough for software companies that have a larger number of machines connected to the Internet. The best security option for these companies are hardware firewalls.

Hardware Firewall

A hardware firewall acts as the gateway computer itself. They usually consist of a built-in Ethernet adapter card, a router and a hub. The computers that you want to link to the hardware firewall are connected to the router, which in turn must be linked to the Internet provider, either through a modem or direct cable. After your Internet connection is set up on all of the computers, you can configure the router’s firewall in any way you please, none of the information that you told the router to deny will be sent further on to the rest of the network.

Hardware firewalls are incredibly secure and not very expensive, the average price hovering around the sum of $100. Depending on the size of your network and the flexibility you want your network to have, you can choose to have a software or hardware firewall installed for a tight security. Regarding computers, the old saying “better safe than sorry” has a deeper meaning.