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Firewall is a solid barrier against external cyber threats, stopping them from infiltrating your network to damage or steal data. Firewalls essentially act like the smoke and heat barriers in buildings that prevent flames from spreading.

Firewalls inspect traffic entering and exiting your system, examining data packets byte by byte and evaluating them against predefined rules you define. If a packet abides by the rules, it’s allowed; otherwise, it is rejected.

There are many different types of firewalls. The type of firewall you need depends on what your business does, the kind of threat it faces and the size of your network.

Traditional firewalls examine the content of each data packet, checking for specific words or phrases and comparing them to an established list of common security threats. They can also examine port numbers and applications to look for malicious activities. These methods can slow down network performance. Newer firewalls can spot threats hiding in encrypted SSL data without slowing down the network.

Some firewalls are positioned between networks (network-based), while others are deployed on each computer (host-based). Network-based systems can be hardware appliances or software running on general or special purpose hardware or they can be virtual appliances on the cloud. Often, the firewall is integrated with other cybersecurity solutions to protect the entire network. These include IPS, antivirus, and anti-malware solutions, as well as other threat prevention technologies. The latest generation of firewalls, called Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW), can be network-based or host-based and offer functions such as deep-packet inspection, advanced malware detection, and application control.