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What are the Different Types of Network Firewall?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2016
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There are two major types of network firewall that can be used to protect a computer network, though within these two primary categories there can be other types as well. One major type is a hardware firewall that is installed onto a device itself, typically as firmware, and is usually installed onto a router or a modem. The other major type of network firewall is a software firewall that is installed onto a computer as additional software that can be managed, controlled, and removed more easily through a computer itself.

A network firewall is a program, often either software or firmware, used to protect a computer network, and the computers on that network, from malicious software. This is typically done by indicating what websites and programs can be accessed by the network, which can ensure that certain websites cannot be viewed or used by someone on the network. If a website accessed by a user on the network tried to install a program onto the user’s computer, then the firewall should detect that installation and prevent it. A network firewall can also be used to keep users on a network from accessing certain websites, often to ensure computer users at work remain on task.

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One of the most common types of network firewall is a hardware firewall that is part of a device or piece of hardware used on a network. While modems can have firewalls installed onto them, a network router will typically have a hardware firewall. The firewall is still a program, but it is usually installed as firmware onto the router and cannot easily be removed. This type of network firewall can be quite effective since it can prevent malware from accessing a system before it reaches any computers on the network. Users on a network, typically an administrator, can adjust the settings of a hardware firewall by adjusting various settings for the firmware on the router.

The other most common type of network firewall is a software firewall that is installed directly onto a computer. This can be less effective than a hardware firewall, since for it to detect a malicious program or website, that malware will already have bypassed any hardware firewalls. Software firewalls are often used as added layers of protection for a computer on a network, or for a computer that is not connected to a device with a hardware firewall. This type of network firewall can usually be altered, removed, and updated quite easily by a computer user, however, which makes it preferable for many people who do not want to deal with firmware on a router.

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