Learning Guide: Firewalls

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What is a firewall?

A firewall is a set of related programs located at a network gateway server that protects the resources of a private network from potential intruders. Firewalls do not verify that information is coming from a secure source. Instead, they enforce a set of rules that determine what information is allowed to pass.

There are two basic types of firewalls: packet-filters and proxy servers. Many commercial firewall products are hybrids of these two types. Regardless of which type of firewall you choose, someone has to configure the firewall to make it work properly. The rules for access must be defined and entered into the firewall for enforcement.

Firewalls are not the end-all, be-all solution to information security. They are, however, a necessary component of an effective information security infrastructure. In this introductory resource, we've gathered expert information to help you learn about how firewalls work -- and more importantly, how to pick the right one for your needs.

Read our complete Firewall definition with related links


How to select the right firewall for your needs

Depending on the size of your company and how much money you're willing to spend on securing your information, there are different types of firewalls that come packaged with various features and functions.

Frank Prince, senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., explains more about how various types of firewalls work -- and why he thinks most companies should seek outside help when selecting and implementing a firewall.

Expert Firewall Advice

Expert Advice: Kevin Beaver, CISSP 

Our firewall expert, Kevin Beaver, has compiled a checklist of best practices to help you make sure that your firewall is configured correctly for optimal performance and effectiveness.
Read Kevin's advice



This was last updated in April 2008

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