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Firewalls filter incoming and outgoing network traffic based on rules established by the network administrator. They also monitor and log information about network sessions. These activities, when properly configured, help detect attacks and mitigate them quickly, safeguarding critical business services and preventing data loss.

As networks evolve, firewall capabilities have also evolved. Originally, firewalls funneled all network communications through physical hardware appliances that plugged into the network infrastructure. Today’s advanced solutions include cloud-based virtual firewalls that deliver the same functionality.

Network Address Translation (NAT) modifies the source or destination IP addresses of data packets to mask internal network structures, conserving resources and concealing devices’ unique identifiers from attackers. Combined with access control, this capability helps regulate who can communicate to which systems within the organization, limiting the exposure of internal vulnerabilities and enabling security policy enforcement.

Enhanced firewall capabilities, such as application awareness and deep packet inspection, protect against more sophisticated threats that are often designed to bypass signature-based detection methods. These features can identify connections that exploit legitimate networking processes and prevent malware, viruses, and other unwanted intrusions from entering a system.

To maintain proper protection, firewalls must be updated regularly. Firmware patches are essential to address vulnerabilities, while refreshes of hostile traffic definitions improve a firewall’s ability to detect and stop the latest types of threats. As these updates are implemented, it is critical that a structured process for checking and testing is put in place to ensure the integrity of the firewall.