What does a firewall do?
The internet has brought with it many benefits. But so has it come with its own share of risks. While we're able to share information remotely, access files from anywhere, stream-live major events, it exposes us to the public, because it's a public network and anyone with a smart device can access it. This includes malicious people with the intent of causing damage to their victims or exploiting their weaknesses. For instance, thanks to the internet, you can be tracked where you are, your activities on the internet can be observed, and crucial information from your devices can leak out to the wrong hands. That's where firewall comes in.
So, what does a Firewall do?
It’s a system firmware designed to keep all these malicious actions from affecting your device. It acts as a "wall" between your devices and the public network, internet. Ideally, it should be able to identify which types of packets of data are malicious and which ones are genuine and only allow genuine ones through. It acts as a protector to keep you safe while you're traversing the internet.
Filters incoming and outgoing traffic
You can think of firewall as a filter. It filters packets of data that come in and out of your device into the public network. For this filter to work, it should be able to identify safe data from the unsafe one and alienate it and block it from going further. To do this, it uses a set of instructions or protocols programmed into it that tell it what to look for when data is being transmitted. Patterns that appear malicious, evil, or unsafe are flagged off immediately before accessing your device and blocked from being transmitted.
Prevents external cyber attacks
As a metaphorical wall between your device and the internet, firewall is able to keep off cyber attackers. Cyber-attacks are targeted malicious activities aimed at innocent users with access to the internet. These attacks are launched to users to collect personal information, cause blackmail, or even steal from them. For instance, bank account information, passwords, and even personal identifying information can be scraped off from your PC and used to siphon out funds from your accounts or cause similarly traumatizing damage. Firewall is able to detect such activities, block them from happening, and alert the user of the impeding danger.
And what does a firewall do in terms of privacy? The internet, being a public network, does not guarantee anyone privacy. Your activities can easily be tracked and observed by anyone who wants to track you. This is especially so since they won't need any authorization to do so on your end. However, firewall is built to detect any unauthorized access to your device. It is able to detect data being sent out without your authorization. Such data could be what you're doing online, what apps you're accessing, what files you have in your storage, your media, and much more. Firewall blocks the data transmission unless the user confirms they have authorized remote access.
Prevents virus installation
Viruses are computer programs that have the ability to replicate themselves and install themselves in multiple devices. They attach themselves to the device's operating system and cause malfunctions or perform activities they're not expected to. For example, a virus can install itself and start deleting crucial data in your device without your knowledge. Fortunately, firewall can detect the virus codes at the point of entry and help alert the user of the impeding danger before the virus installs itself. Once alerted, the user can use an antivirus to get rid of the virus and secure their safety.
Protection from malware
Like viruses, malware are programs or applications that cause malfunctions to the computer. Essentially, they may get installed disguised as reputable applications only for them to perform different functions in the background. For example, adware shows numerous adverts on your screen, spyware tracks your clicks and activities in the internet, etc. As they try to send out this information to a remote server, firewall will detect this transmission and stop it at the point of exit. Equally, it will stop the malware from getting into the computer in the first place.
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