What is a Firewall?

LAST UPDATED: December 11th, 2018

Alerts from your computer’s firewall can be frustrating and confusing. They pop up more than you would like and never seem to explain the reason for the interruption.

You might see firewall notifications as nothing more than a nuisance. But this computer utility plays a key role in your online safety. Let’s take a look at what a firewall is, how it works, and why it’s so important to keep yours up-to-date.

What is Firewall Protection?

Think of your computer’s firewall as a gate that only opens in one direction. It allows data out but not back in. That means less risk of your computer becoming infected by viruses or malware.

Firewalls are an essential part of your computer’s defense suite. They track traffic that comes into your computer and decides if it’s safe or not. While no two firewalls are the same, they all work to keep corrupt data from breaching your network.

How Do Firewalls Work?

Firewalls work to keep your computer free from malicious software. Called malware, this type of software can damage your computer or network. Malware ranges from programs that freeze your computer to allowing remote operations.

Most of us think of malware in the form of viruses. But there are many other types that are harder to understand and track. That’s why your computer’s firewall is so important.

Your firewall works to keep out known attacking agents, providing safe browsing online. You don’t have to worry about your computer catching a bug that’s already identified.

Do Firewalls Offer Complete Protection?

Firewalls offer many benefits, but they aren’t perfect. They can only protect against known malware. That’s because they rely on set security profiles to identify issues.

Your firewall won’t be able to stop new types of malware that it hasn’t yet encountered. But, it can filter out most common types of malware and keep your computer from becoming infected.

Does Every Computer Need a Firewall?

If you have an internet-capable computer, you need a firewall. You can choose a firewall that’s built into your computer’s OS. Or you can use one that’s part of your antivirus software or ISP hardware.

No matter which type of firewall you choose, it’s crucial to keep it updated. Making sure your firewall is up-to-date will go a long way toward warding off malware. It will also help make sure your online experience is as safe as possible.

What’s the Bottom Line?

If you want to keep your computer safe and your information private, you need a strong firewall. There are some awful bugs out there in the cyber world. Don’t get caught without a firewall — it’s your computer’s first and best defense!