Why Is a Firewall Needed?

Robert Walser once said, “Every sensitive person carries in himself old cities enclosed by ancient walls.”

While you’re pondering on that, let’s discuss a type of wall that’s a little less austere: firewalls.

Chances are you’ve heard a lot about firewalls over the past few years. Many IT professionals suggest upgrading firewalls, but it can be a little unclear why. It leaves some asking, “Why is a firewall needed?” And, more importantly, “Do I need a firewall for my business?”

In this article, we’ll answer those questions and more. Let’s dive in.

What is a Firewall?

There’s a reason it’s called a firewall. It’s like a wall surrounding an ancient civilization keeping threats away and allowing citizens or guests arrive. There are different types of firewalls, but we’ll keep this article general.

When you go online, you send out data. For example, when you search on Google, you’re sending the words that you want to search. Even this is a type of data.

But it’s a trade. Google sends the results that you requested back once you hit enter. A firewall filters these results first though. A firewall makes sure that nothing Google sends back to you is dangerous. If it thinks it is, it will tell you to return to safety.

Of course, on a trustworthy site like Google, you should be fine. But when you start clicking links or visiting other sites, all bets are off.

The same goes for downloading files. A firewall can filter files before downloading them to protect you from viruses and hacks. Of course, antivirus software also helps with this, but the two work together to protect you. We’ll talk about this more in a later section.

Why Is a Firewall Needed?

Now, to the vital question: why is a firewall needed?

At a basic level, a firewall protects you and your business from bad actors and dangerous software. If someone at your company were unknowingly downloading a malicious file, a firewall would stop them in their tracks.

A firewall also protects you from other people. Let’s say someone comes into your office and uses your WiFi. Giving them access to your network means a virus on their computer could spread to your network, even if you have excellent protection.

Do I Need a Firewall and Antivirus Software?

Let’s fly to Vegas and imagine a bouncer at a casino. The bouncer’s job is to make sure that only approved people enter a casino. They need to stop minors, bad actors, criminals, and so on.

In casinos, other security personnel patrol the inside as well. If an unapproved person makes it past the bouncer, the security guards can catch them before any damage is done. The internal security’s focus is to always look for unapproved people.

The bouncer is the firewall, and the internal security is the antivirus. The two help each other and are the same team, but they serve different purposes. Both can fail, but together, they’re much more likely to succeed.

A firewall can often be sufficient for protecting you and your business. As long as you only download items from trustworthy websites, you could make it without antivirus. But firewalls are not always perfect, so a safer bet is to invest in antivirus software along with firewall.

Do I Have a Firewall Already?

Here’s some good news: you likely already have a firewall on your computer. Usually, your computer’s firewall is active by default. Your network administrator may automatically have it on as well.

Here’s how you can check:

  • Windows: Open the control panel and click “System and Security.” Click “Windows Firewall” and  check the line that says “Windows Defender Firewall State.” If it says “On,” you have a firewall. If it’s off, you can turn it on by clicking “Turn Windows Defender Firewall on or off” in the lefthand menu.
  • Mac: Click the Apple menu and navigate to “System Preferences.” Click “Security and Privacy” and then click Firewall followed by Firewall Options. If it’s off, click turn on the firewall.

These firewalls are basic compared to some of the more comprehensive ones out there. Standard firewalls are not foolproof as they can be easily overridden, which is even more reason for business owners to invest in antivirus software or a more advanced firewall.

An individual on their home network may not need an advanced firewall. But as a business, upgrading this part of your IT infrastructure is essential. Make sure to also check with your internet provider to ensure their network uses protective software as well.

Firewall Benefits: A Summary

Why is a firewall needed? In short, it’s because it protects you and your business. We believe most companies should upgrade and monitor their firewall protection.

We’re happy to help. As IT experts, we know a thing or two about firewalls. Please, contact us for a free quote today.

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