Firewalls: Do you need one?

Firewalls, are they really important and do you really need to use one all the time?

Well, before we can answer those questions, we first need to know what they are and how they actually work. Ok, lets get back to basics.. Firewalls are clever pieces of software which act like a door or a gate to your house. Their primary purpose is to ensure that nothing bad enters your house (or in reality your computer). Every piece of information that comes up to the firewall is stopped and checked against a known list of good rules, this happens extremely quick.

If the piece of information which has been checked is known to be good, it is allowed through to your computer and then the computer can read the information and act upon it. Such as displaying this video clip on your computer.  If the information is known to be bad, or is not in the list of allowed information, then the firewall will throw it away and it goes no further.

It’s as simple as that to understand what a firewall does, generally every Operating System, like Microsoft Windows, Linux and macOS come with one built into the system, although in reality firewalls are very complex pieces of software, but you don’t have to worry about that – it just generally works out of the box.

So to answer our first question are firewalls important? Yes, yes they are, they play a very important piece in ensuring you are safe and secure and as we’ve just learn’t, the firewall is there to protect your computer from all the bad things on the internet and any untrusted networks, such as coffee shops and unknown wireless networks.

If you didn’t have a firewall running on your computer you would have lots of automated tools scanning your computer looking for your personal information as well as malicious people trying to break into your computer and steal everything that is precious to you, such as banking information.

To answer the second question, do we really need to use firewalls all the time? The simple answer to this is yes, you should ensure that you have a firewall enabled and turned on at all times, whether you are at home, in the office or on a trusted network. Keeping your firewall on adds that additional level of safety to you and your information and it doesn’t impact you daily work.

If you work in an office, its more important to ensure that firewalls are enabled and used at all times, because if one machine became compromised the attackers may be able to scan the network and try and connect to other machines, by having firewalls on, it blocks this type of attack.Lastly, we know what a firewall is, we know they are important and you should have them turned on at all times, but do you need to use the built in one that comes with Microsoft Windows, macOS or Linux? Well no you don’t, you can use any that you want to. For example some antivirus products or Virtual Private Network (or VPN) products come with firewalls that you can use instead.