What Is A Firewall And Why Is It Important?

by Barbara J. Feldman on September 25, 2007

An Internet firewall is a device that is designed to protect your computer from data and viruses that you do not want. A firewall is so called because of the real firewalls used to secure buildings. A physical firewall is a set of doors that closes in a building so as to contain a fire to one area, preventing the entire building from being destroyed. Likewise an Internet firewall is designed to shut off access to your operating system or to other computers that are connected to your network.

A firewall is something that the user of the computer is responsible for checking and installing. The security levels provided by the firewall can be altered just as any other control function can be altered. Security experts say that the best way to stay safe online is to only visit websites that you trust or that you are sure are secure. In cases like these where the visiting of only a few sites is taking place, a firewall is still useful but does not have to work as hard to filter out dangerous content.

However, most Internet users visit more sites than just those that they are familiar with. In fact, many people use the Internet to do business, to research topics, to shop, to meet new people, etc. This typical Internet use is what really makes having an Internet firewall important. With a good Internet firewall, you are being protected from the spread of hacker dangers, many times without even being aware of it.

Setting up or installing an Internet firewall is intentionally very simple. Most computers come with a firewall program. The only thing that the user needs to do is set the settings for the firewall. This means that individual users decide how much content they want to filter through and what websites are safe to use. In some cases users have a very lax opinion of what should and should not be allowed to pass through their filter. Others mention by name the sites that are acceptable to visit, leaving all other sites off limits (this is often the case when a parent is allowing a child to have their own private access to the Internet and wants to make sure to avoid any objectionable content). Designating your level of security for your own personal firewall is imperative. You must have an understanding of how to do this. If not, it is possible that your system will remain on a default setting. Some default settings allow for all Internet site visits to take place unless websites have been specifically blocked. This default configuration makes inadvertent network connections and system safety compromises much more likely.

An Internet firewall is important for many reasons. Some value a firewall for its ability to keep private information secure. Identity theft is a growing crime and many see firewalls as a good defense against these specific types of predators. Others, such as small business owners, think firewalls are important because a firewall keeps all their personal electronic information private. Not only is privacy important from a competitive perspective, but you must make certain that you can assure your customers that their personal business information is going to be safe with you.

Make sure that the information on your computer and the information that you share online remains for your eyes only. Take advantage of firewall protection and the fact that it comes standard with newer computers and can often be downloaded for free from a reputable site. No matter how you connect to the Internet an Internet firewall is important. Protect yourself, your business and your colleagues on your network by making sure that you have firewall protection.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "What Is A Firewall And Why Is It Important?." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 25 Sep. 2007. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1173/what-is-a-firewall-and-why-is-it-important/ >.


  • EddieTizzle

    what are the weaknesses of firewalls?