To protect computers from unwanted visitors, the first line of defense deployed by network administrators is called firewall. These visitors can be viruses, worms, hackers and remote controlled applications through hidden spyware, etc. Firewall acts as a watchdog or a guardian for your computer without which your network becomes an open door offering free passage to anyone and everyone on the internet. It is not necessary that you enable firewall protection only when you have files to secure because every network requires protection from hackers. Curious invaders can easily attack your computers and cause irreparable damage to the hardware by taking control of your network. Therefore, installing a firewall is a small-time investment but certainly a productive strategy to improve your network’s security.
Firewalls are of two types: software firewall and hardware firewall. The difference between hardware and software firewall is the same as the distinction between hardware and software. Software firewall or personal firewall is in the form of programs whereas hardware firewall is a tool or appliance which is physically attached to your PC.
Another difference is that hardware firewall can protect not one but all the computers connected via one network. Conversely, software firewall offers security only to the PC on which it is installed. Moreover, hardware firewalls are very cost-effective and generally more effective especially if you have three or more computers to protect.
Hardware firewall or appliance firewall is an equipment or device created solely for keeping external intrusion at bay from your network. Actually, it is a complete package comprising of a device having software program already installed in it. This device is specially designed to prevent hackers from invading your privacy and attacking your server or computer to retrieve critical personal data.
Hardware Firewalls are configured solely for preventing access to particular type of applications that are regarded as dangerous (for instance, P2P file-sharing programs). This task is performed by blocking the communication ports that can be exploited by these applications. It also provides reasonable protection from hidden spyware infections by stopping outgoing data packets sent from an infected PC to a hacker.
Hardware Firewall Appliances can be easily configured and installed to outbound or inbound traffic. This feature ensures that users can enjoy full control on the hardware firewall appliance.
Hardware firewalls can be either simple or complex in functionality. Their complexity differs according to the size of the network which they have been designed to secure. Nevertheless, the techniques utilized by these appliances to protect your network from hackers and salient cyber threats are similar.
A majority of hardware firewalls protect your network through packet filtering which can be referred to as a checklist. During this process, some data packets are allowed access and some are blocked. Blocking relies upon the pre-determined criteria for data packets that need to be blocked. Therefore, whenever a packet attempting to travel through the network meets the appliance’s criteria, it is instantly blocked and denied permission.
Another method is the Stateful Packet Inspection technique also called SPI. SPI takes analysis a step further by checking out additional characteristics of data packets for determining whether to block it or not. This information includes the location from where the packet originated, who sent it and why it is being sent (for instance, did it just appear or is sent as a response to facilitate some request from the user). SPI when combined with packet filtering makes the hardware firewall smart and highly efficient since the decisions of blocking data packets are taken after logical analysis.
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