How A Firewall Can Protect Your IT Network And Business

The importance of firewalls to protect your network security

Think about how long it takes to pour a cup of coffee. 

That’s actually more time than it takes for a cyberattack to occur somewhere in the United States.

It has been noted that every 30 seconds there is a hacker attack which affects one in three Americans every single day. That’s a staggering figure that kills productivity and revenues throughout the world. Of these cyberattacks, 43% of them target small businesses.

With that anti-productivity comes a steep cost. The total cost of these cybercrimes is $600 billion annually. If you own a small business, these statistics should terrify you. Becoming a victim of cybercrime can hurt or even financially destroy your small business. And many companies don’t have an emergency plan for when these disasters do happen.

If you’re a small business owner, you may want to start protecting yourself and your network but you may not know where to start. Is there a way to prevent cyberattacks that is also customizable for your company’s needs?

“The easy way for an extra layer of protection is the incorporation of a firewall,” explains Chad Lauterbach, CEO of Be Structured, a outsourced technology company with decades of experience in IT support for Los Angeles businesses. “Firewalls have been the first line of defense against cyberattacks for nearly three decades and their sophistication and protection continue to evolve.”

What Is a Firewall?

Put simply, a firewall is a network support service and security system that automatically monitors both in and outbound traffic traveling through your network that when properly set up intuitively parses good and bad traffic, allowing the former and blocking the latter.

Just like the Great Wall of China built to block marauding invaders, a firewall can protect your network against harmful breeches.

You’ve probably heard of a firewall, but you might be asking yourself “How does a firewall work?” and “What can it protect against?” 

The answers are both incredibly simple and complex.

Herein is a simple and easy guide to firewalls and how they work. Managed properly and set up by a professional network support service, a firewall can go a long way to keeping any small business safe.

How Does a Firewall Work?

Let’s answer two of your most burning questions about firewalls. What is a firewall? And how does a firewall work?

A firewall, in simple terms, is like a filter for your network. It works like an actual firewall to contain and prevent the spread of dangerous material to or from your computer. It determines what network streams are a threat to your computer and attempts to stop them in their tracks to prevent the spread of malicious traffic.

Now you’re probably wondering “How does the firewall know what information is a threat and what isn’t?” A firewall can function either with inclusive or exclusive parameters. 

This means that the firewall allows in some information and disallows other information. The firewall has an access control list which sets up some guidelines that allow or prevent access to a specific computer or network. This list can be customized to suit the needs of any computer or network. 

Modern firewalls also do deep packet inspection to do further analysis of the traffic contained in each packet and data stream.

What Kinds of Firewalls Are There?

Now that we’ve answered “How do firewalls work?” let’s move on to the different types of firewalls.

There are many different ways of categorizing firewalls so let’s start with one of the simplest: hardware and software

The main difference between these two firewalls is that software comes in the form of a computer program that can be installed. Conversely, hardware is a physical device. Though software offers great protection hardware offers better protection because of how close it is to the router.

Hardware firewalls stop threats before they make it into the network. Hardware firewalls scan any incoming information to find a threat. 

Software firewalls depend on things like browsers or operating systems to provide protection. Firewalls are also categorized based on how they block traffic. 

There are four different methods firewalls use to block traffic. These include:

  • Circuit level
  • Network level
  • Stateful multilayer
  • Application-level

Circuit Level Gateway Firewall

Circuit-level gateway firewalls work by interfering with the way computers communicate. Basically, the firewall looks at information sent by other computers and determines if it’s legitimate.

In the case of a denial of service attack, it can also hide the network from the outside world. This is often one of the cheapest forms of firewall protection according to one leading managed service provider in Los Angeles.

Network Level Firewall

Network level firewalls, also called packet filters, were the first firewalls ever commercially available.

They work by filtering traffic to the network by using their destination, IP address, and source of the information. This process is known as packet filtering.

Though these firewalls usually come with most modern day routers they have limitations. They usually don’t understand online languages like XML (extensible markup language) or HTML hypertext markup language.

Stateful Multilayer Firewall

Similar to the network level firewall, this firewall filters information from the network before it reaches its destination.

However, this firewall uses a process called dynamic packet filtering. This means that the firewall monitors the active connections in the network. Then, it uses the information to determine what packets to let through the firewall.

Though this firewall has a lot of benefits, its main drawback is that it can be very expensive. More expensive, in fact, than actually utilizing outsourced IT support to a third-party company that will manage and watch your network 24/7 for all 365 days of the year.

Application-Level Firewall

Application-level firewalls are also known as proxies or deep packet inspection (DPI) firewalls. They function the same way as circuit-level gateway firewalls but they only work on individual applications. They block all traffic from the firewall and stop information from getting through based on web content and not IP addresses.

The main drawback to this kind of firewall is time and price. These firewalls must be configured manually for each new user which can take a lot of time. And the application must manually examine packets of data which is also time intensive.

The kind of firewall security that is right for your company is going to depend on your size and budget. But there are easy ways of assessing your company’s security needs. One of these ways is by using a network security plan.

What Do Firewalls Protect Against?

Now that you know about the many different kinds of computer firewalls you may be wondering “What do firewalls protect against?”

The answer is that it depends on the type of firewall but generally, firewalls protect from a whole range of threats from viruses to denial of service attacks. Denial of service attacks are cyber attacks that make a network inaccessible to its target users.

One of the most important things firewalls protect against is unauthorized web users from connecting to your private networks. For a lot of companies, this is their greatest fear because it can lead to unauthorized users stealing information and using it to harm your business. Preventing this makes your business safer and protects any information you’re sending online.

What are Managed Firewalls?

It can cost thousands of dollars to add an IT department to your company. For many small businesses having a dedicated IT department is far too expensive. Small businesses often want to take serious security measures like installing firewalls but they’re afraid that it will require hiring new staff dedicated to IT. And for many, this will be too expensive.

But there is an option and that is managed firewalls. Managed firewalls monitor all the information about the traffic going to and from your computer. This makes your data safer at a lower cost. When you install a managed firewall you are connected to a professional that oversees your firewall without having to pay outrageous fees.

Managed firewalls also come with features like Web content filtering and application control. Web content filtering prevents your computer from accessing any objectionable content that poses a threat to your site. Application control rate-limits specific features to improve employee output and focus.

Another benefit of this software is that because it is cloud-based, it is updated automatically. This means you won’t have to stop work every time there is a software update scheduled.

Asking the right questions of your IT support company will go a long way to assuring you’re getting the level of security your business requires.

So asking the question, “How does a firewall work?” will be one of the most important questions you ask before designing your data security plan.

Understanding how firewalls work is only the first step in making sure your network is safe. There are many different elements in a good security emergency plan that can be overwhelming. 

Be Structured has been providing award-winning support and managed IT services for Los Angeles area companies for over two decades. 

Contact the Be Structured team for a network evaluation and find the security package that best fits your needs. 

As always, the best defense against a debilitating cyberattack is having in place a excellent protection plan. 

People Also Ask

What does a firewall actually do?

A firewall is a security device installed on your network that helps assess and filter potentially nefarious traffic and block unwanted outsiders from accessing the sensitive data stored on your network.

What are 3 types of firewalls?

  • Packet filters
  • Stateful inspection
  • Proxy server firewalls

How does a firewall know what to block?

A firewall intuitively analyzes traffic that hits your company’s servers based authentication rules put in place that recognizes traffic from suspicious or unsecured sources.

Do firewalls protect against viruses?

Yes. A quality firewall, properly installed, will stop unwanted and dangerous traffic from accessing the info on your servers thus preventing cyberattacks, malware installation and many other forms of viruses from installing themselves on your system.



About Chad Lauterbach

CEO at Be Structured Technology Group, Inc. a Los Angeles based provider of Managed IT Services for small business. I desire to help small businesses better utilize technology by assisting in high level planning to make sure that new systems will benefit them both operationally and financially. I am careful to implement and support systems using industry best practices.