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Computers have always been used for processing sensitive information. Obviously, at some point, this meant said information had to be protected from would-be threats. With the dawn of the World Wide Web, it became possible for all kinds of threats from outside an organization to potentially do damage to that company. This is when firewalls became necessary.

What Are Firewalls?

To put it simply, firewalls are digital barriers that keep unauthorized parties from accessing information they don’t have permission for. At the same time, these firewalls allow communication to still go the other way.

There are all kinds of threats that exist these days, but one of the main ones comes from malicious hackers. While some may want to get into your system for commercial gain, many have little else on their mind aside from idle mischief. Either way, they are a serious threat that can cost your company lots of money (hackers can also be difficult to catch and prosecute).

Other threats that may originate from hackers include things like worms and viruses. Once these have accessed your computer, the machine may soon be completely unusable.

With the right firewall, though, you can safely explore the Internet without having to worry that doing so is leaving your computer vulnerable to the aforementioned parties.

Many firewalls are also very customizable. You can easily tell it what to keep an eye out for and which types of sites you trust completely.

How firewalls identify threats and keep them at bay depends on the type you’re using. Many modern versions actually rely on a few strategies, often applying more than one at the same time. This overlapping approach helps ensure nothing gets past.

Does Your Company Need a Firewall?

Not only does your company absolutely need a firewall, everyone with a computer and Internet access needs one.

That being said, it’s easy to argue that companies have a far greater need for them than someone using a computer for personal reasons.

For one thing, you have more computers to worry about and each one of them represents a potential opportunity for those who would love to hurt your business. On top of that, if you have more than one person using a computer (i.e. if your employees work in shifts), that’s an even greater chance that a machine will be susceptible to hackers and other threats. Some firewalls are actually able to stop your employees from sending out emails that may be against your policies. For example, if an employee tried to email the credit card information of one of your customers to a friend, the firewall would recognize this, stop it and save your company from a serious lawsuit.

When it comes down to it, if your company is going to use the Internet, a firewall is every bit as essential as an ISP. In fact, if you were to decide against using firewall software, it probably wouldn’t even be worth going online, as trouble will eventually find you and cost you dearly.

What to Look for in a Firewall

There are all kinds of firewall software out there to choose from. Most computers these days actually come with a version already installed. However, if you would be more comfortable shopping for another kind, the following should help you pick the right one.

Managed or Unmanaged?

If your company has an IT department, it may make sense to go with an unmanaged option. This means that your IT employees would essentially be in charge of overseeing the firewall, which will cost you less and put your company in control. That being said, a managed firewall is a great option for companies that either lack an IT department or don’t have one that would be up to the task. Remember: your firewall is nothing to leave to chance.

Government Regulations

Depending on the industry you’re in, the government may have rules in place regarding the kind of cyber security you must use. Before investing in a firewall, then, be sure that the kind you’re paying for will meet the government’s demands or you’ll definitely be wasting money.

Two-Way Monitoring

A one-way firewall simply blocks incoming parties that aren’t allowed past it. This type of firewall can also create reports about the different threats it’s come up against. With a two-way firewall, though, you can also keep an eye on what your employees are doing. Like we mentioned earlier, this is a fantastic way to stop a serious problem before it ever starts.

Sterling Reputation

We’ve covered how important firewalls are, so don’t be fooled into spending money on one that promises a world of security for a rock bottom price. Do your research before putting any money into the firewall you plan on using.

Without a firewall, going online puts you at immediate risk. This is especially true if you’re doing so with a company computer. Fortunately, the right firewall can allow business as usual without cyber threats becoming a major problem.    



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