What is a firewall?
A firewall is a part of a computer system or network that is designed to block unauthorized access while permitting autorized communications.
Why do you need firewall?
Firewalls help you protect:
- Your Personal Data
- Your Computer
- Your Reputation
- Your Liability
Firewalls are an important part of Internet security, but they cannot protect you against some of the problems that exist on the Internet. For example, firewalls cannot protect you from the following:
- Denial of Service Attacks
- Virus Infection (unless it is part of a software package that includes anti-virus protection)
- Harassment or Spam e-mails
- Identity Theft (but it may make it more difficult to get access to the information needed in the first place)
What makes a good firewall?
- Provide a highly detailed plain text log in a fully documented format that is easily read (rather than being designed to be parsed by computers)
- Provide an abundance of informative documentation and help files
- Refrain from exaggerating the potential of a threat or claiming that any incoming packet is an attack; some low-end firewalls behave this way and it makes it harder to interpret an incident
- Have a minimum number of false alarms
- Have an active user community that can help you with initial configuration, incident interpretation and long-term maintenance
- Are run off a separate computer with 2 network cards and proxy the network connection to the other computers
Where can I get a firewall?
Note that most modern operating systems (Apple OSX, Windows Vista/7, Linux) all have firewalls of varying strengths built into them. However, it is still a good idea to run a separate program that is dedicated to anti-virus and/or firewall activities. Also, if you are running an older system (Windows XP in particular) you should be running a personal firewall. There are many commercially available products such as Norton or McAfee as well as some free options such as Zone Alarm or Bit Defender that will act as a firewall and (in some cases) an Anti-Virus system on your computer.
Access Communications offers our F-Secure package (which is included in some of our residential Internet packages) that includes a program that can be installed on your computer that will act as a Firewall as well as an anti-virus product.