According to a study by NCSA Cyber Security, only 4% of Americans say they understand firewalls "completely", while more than 44% don't understand firewalls at all - or know if they have one enabled on their PC. So for those of you who feel a little unsure - below is a brief overview of why you might need a firewall.
If your PC is connected to the Internet, you are a potential target to an array of cyber threats, such as hackers, keyloggers, and Trojans that attack through unpatched security holes. This means that if you, like most people shop and bank online, are vulnerable to identity theft and other malicious attacks.
A firewall works as a barrier, or a shield, between your PC and cyber space. When you are connected to the Internet, you are constantly sending and receiving information in small units called packets. The firewall filters these packets to see if they meet certain criteria set by a series of rules, and thereafter blocks or allows the data. This way, hackers cannot get inside and steal information such as bank account numbers and passwords from you.
Basic firewalls such as the one included in Windows XP and other operating systems dont provide complete coverage and only monitor incoming traffic by default. This may give you a false sense of security. Keep in mind, outgoing traffic, with your credit card information, bank accounts, and social security number is not protected. A good firewall will monitor traffic in both directions. That is, both your incoming data and your outgoing data, keeping your private information safe. In addition to preventing unauthorized access to your PC, it also makes your PC invisible when you're online, helping prevent attempted intrusions in the first place.
However if you're talking about a business network you should really be looking at more sophisticated firewalls such as the ones sold by our partners WatchGuard and pfSense include features that continuously update the list of known good and known malicious applications and websites. This way, the amount of questions relating to Internet access is minimized and your computer protection is always up-to-date which protect your entire network giving your a better blanket of security.
Although a firewall provides critical protection to keep your PC safe from unauthorized access, it cannot remove malware from a system that has already been infected. Therefore, a firewall should be used in conjunction with other proactive measures, such as anti-malware software whih we can provide to you aswell through our partnerships with MalwareBytes, Avast, and AVG to truly strengthen your resistance to attacks.