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Firewalls establish a barrier between internal networks and incoming threats from the Internet, protecting critical data and resources. A firewall filters data packets entering and leaving your network based on pre-set security rules to prevent malware, viruses, and hackers from infiltrating the system.

A firewall can be hardware or software based, and it typically comes preconfigured with default settings. It is imperative to have user permission control, so only authorized administrators can alter the configuration and that each change is recorded for audit and compliance purposes. Firewall logs are also monitored regularly to detect any unauthorized break-ins from inside or outside the network.

The type of firewall you need depends on the context and size of your network. For example, a single-function packet filtering firewall that works at the OSI layer 3 may suffice for personal or small office use. This firewall offers basic filtering of incoming and outgoing data packets by examining the IP address, port number, and packet protocols to approve or reject them.

On the other hand, a next-generation firewall (NGFW) provides more granular inspection of packets with features like deep packet inspection that examines packet payloads, application awareness that enforces rules based on which applications are being used, and identity awareness that protects against threats such as DDOS attacks that target the computer rather than the network or server. Combined with other protective measures, a firewall can significantly reduce the risks of cyberattacks. Having a strong and well-maintained firewall is essential to your organization’s cybersecurity.