Firewalls: Your Personal Line of Defense

By: Dave Page

Each day, millions of users log onto the Internet. And with the price of services steadily decreasing, accessibility is increasing, which means that more and more people are accessing the world wide web on a regular basis. Even those who may not be able to afford their own service make use of public facilities, such as libraries, to log on occasionally. Just as with any type of technology, the Internet is experiencing growth and development on a constant basis. Along with any growth and development, issues develop that must be addressed. One of the main issues that plagues the Internet is security.

Because there are certain individuals in society who have little or no regard for others, it can sometimes be difficult to enjoy this wonderful technology. However, if you put a few safeguards in place, then your Internet experience can be a pleasurable one for the most part. That is not to say that you will not experiences difficulties from time to time, but you should not leave the door wide open to these vulnerabilities.

You probably already have anti-virus software on your computer and if you do not have any, then you should. In addition to your anti-virus software, another personal line of defense for your system is a firewall. Firewalls are an excellent way to help protect your computer from attack and allow you to enjoy a pleasurable online experience. To understand why you need a firewall, you will need to also understand a little about how the Internet works.

When you are surfing the Internet, information is transmitted in both directions. In simple terms, you tell the computer where you want to go and it returns the information you want. However, unscrupulous individuals make use of this same gateway to conduct their malevolent activities. Having a firewall in place helps to prevent them from accessing your computer and the information stored on it. The main goal of your firewall is to prevent the unauthorized transmittal of information in either direction.

There are a few types of attacks that firewalls help prevent - intrusions, information theft and tampering, and service attacks.

An intrusion is basically just when someone or something is trying to access your system without your knowledge. And once access is gained, then the intruder can cause all types of havoc such as stealing sensitive information, accessing other systems, and tampering with information stored on your computer. This type of attack is the kind most individuals use firewalls to protect themselves from.

Information theft does not even require that the system be breached. If FTP servers are not secure and the software is not up to date, many times attackers use these vulnerabilities to download sensitive files or plant Trojans to complete their job for them.

Denial of service attacks are the attacks that prevent users from accessing the services they desire. Businesses are often the targets of these types of attacks and, unfortunately they are very difficult to prevent.

Some attackers are simply seeking a thrill while others intend you harm. You can prevent these attacks by installing a good firewall, especially if you are using a high speed Internet connection. You can configure your firewall to block protocols and set the level of security you desire. You should choose a firewall that has the ability to block all types of intrusions, control which applications on your computer can access the Internet, and prevent the execution of malicious scripts.

Firewalls are a personal line of defense for your computer and help you to enjoy the Internet safely. Making sure that you have one place is no longer an option, but a necessity.

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