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Are There Different Types of Firewalls?


here are two main types of firewalls: hardware and software. They have different features and different benefits.

Let's find out what they are and how to use them.

A hardware firewall is often called "network firewall" because it's an external box sitting between the Internet and your computer. For home environments firewall functions are usually integrated in broadband routers, which allow you to connect to the Internet and share the connection with other computers too.

Even if hardware firewalls can protect all computers hooked on the same network, they also increase the protection of a single computer. Hardware firewalls are not an alternative to software firewalls and provide an additional line of defense against attacks.

Many broadband routers integrate very powerful firewalls and you can find good products starting from under $100.

A software firewall is a program running on your computer, which monitors the incoming and outgoing traffic and alerts you in case of doubt.

Some operating systems include a built-in firewall, which you should make sure to enable before connecting your computer for the first time to the Internet.

Many third-party products offer better performances/features and can be obtained either as a stand-alone program or as part of a so-called Internet Security Suite, an all-in-one security software offering protection from all types of threats. As always, only download and install software from reputable companies and secure websites.

A software firewall should always be used in conjunction with an external hardware firewall, because it is running on the very same machine which you are trying to defend. On the plus side, it will provide you a better understanding of which programs running on your computer are trying to connect to the Internet. We bet you'll be surprised.

Our advice is to install a broadband router with integrated firewall when possible. Even if you have a single computer, just using a simple broadband modem connects you directly to the Internet, making you more vulnerable. Using a router/firewall will not only improve your connection performance/reliability, but also create a physical separation between your machine and the Internet, thus making life much harder to hackers.

Using a good and user-friendly software firewall is an essential addition to your protection plan. Our firewall software reviews examines both an integrated and a stand-alone solution, which are technically powerful and gentle with non-technical users.