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How Firewalls Work and Why They are Important

If you spend any amount of time working on the Internet, particularly if you use the Internet on a large server, then you have surely heard the term “firewall”.  The word firewall originally comes from the walls of brick that people put in their homes to keep fire from spreading from room to room.  However, in the context of the Internet a firewall is a means of keeping destructive websites, forces and people away from your network and computer via the web.

There are all sorts of ways that people can do harm to your network and personal computer through the web if you don’t implement a firewall.  Without a firewall, hackers can gain remote access to your computer and view your files, control your programs and even send out mass emails from your account.  Working on a network without a firewall also leaves your open to more mail bombs, viruses, spam and other destructive forces.

A firewall works by blocking websites and information that is not trusted.  You or your company may choose to block specific websites or IP addresses, specific functions such as uploading and downloading and even websites that include specific words or phrases.  With a firewall there is no limit to making all sorts of restrictions on your network and Internet connection.  Many people believe that their companies are using firewalls only to keep them away from time-wasting websites, but the company actually just wants to make sure that everyone’s computers and personal information remain safe.

There is firewall software that can be installed on your computer as well as firewall hardware including routers and Ethernet hubs.  Firewalls are completely customizable to allow you to let in the websites and information that you want and keep the destructive forces out.  Note that firewalls don’t keep out 100% of viruses so you should still install anti-virus software on your computer.

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