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What are Firewalls?

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  • Written By: L. S. Wynn
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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In construction, a firewall is a non-flammable wall that prevents fires from spreading throughout a building. Homes, for example, may have a firewall between the garage and the rest of the house to prevent garage fires from threatening other rooms.

With the rapid popularization of the internet, the term firewall is more commonly used in computer networking. Like the firewalls used in homes and buildings, computer firewalls act as a barrier between computers on a network. For companies with a computer network or for individuals with a permanent connection to the internet (such as through DSL or cable), a firewall is critical. Without a firewall, intruders on the network would likely be able to destroy, tamper with or gain access to the files on your computer.

Firewalls can come in the form of hardware or software. Without getting into the complex details of how firewalls work, suffice it to say that function with a set of filters that are constantly monitoring traffic on the network. Whenever a packet of information triggers one of the filters, the firewall prevents it from passing through in the attempt to prevent damage. Of course, firewalls sometimes block wanted traffic, and through a continual process of refinement, the filters can be customized to improve their efficacy.

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Many computer users who access the internet via a broadband router, may already be benefitting from a firewall. The router itself may be configured to serve as a firewall; any nefarious attacks from the network, are halted at the router thereby sparing any ill effects to the computer. Such a hardware firewall can be further bolstered with a secondary line of defense in the form of a software firewall; you can never be too safe when using the internet!

If you would like more detailed information regarding firewalls, how they work or how to configure them, etc. please visit the link provided in the source section below.

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anon195572
Post 6

How can you put a firewall up for a wireless router? People in my complex are able to use my wireless internet and I want to change that.

drtroubles
Post 5

If you would like extra security on your computer how do you know which firewalls you already have installed?

I would like to add some if I need to, but am not sure which of my browsers already have them. I currently use Firefox, Safari and occasional Internet Explorer.

Also, even if your browsers do already have firewalls, is it possible to add extra ones if you suspect a website is trying to get access to your files?

There are a few sites that I visit for downloads, and I am always worried that I may be exposing my computer to unwanted attention. I have a lot of files on my computer that I really would like to keep safe.

lonelygod
Post 4

@gygglez - Firewalls wouldn't stop people from using your WiFi. These are more to stop websites from putting malware onto your computer.

If you have a wireless router, and everyone has access to your WiFi signal, you actually need to put a password in place. This can usually be done with the software that came to install your router.

I used to have this problem as well, but setting up the password was very easy. If guidelines aren't in the book that came with the router, you can search for how to setup a password on my wireless router. Adding your model number to the search helps a lot.

gygglez
Post 3

How can you put a firewall up for a wireless router? People in my complex are able to use my wireless internet and I want to change that.

helene55
Post 2

Many computer operating systems have their own firewalls, as do many internet systems. For example, I have two free firewalls on my computer, one from Windows and one from Firefox. For the most part, these can fulfill more basic internet needs, although it's important to make sure you are configuring them correctly if you want more than basic firewall security.

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