It’s important to understand the role firewall network security plays in information security controls. Enterprise security pros should think of a firewall as one layer in a set of defences that comprise a defence-in-depth strategy, rather than as a standalone defence that protects against a specific set of attacks. The reality is many potential attacks are dissatisfied because of the interaction of a series of defences rather than a single control.
The basic function of firewall network security is to control the traffic passing between two networks and block any undesired traffic. A firewall is like a gatekeeper, watching the network and inspecting each packet to ensure it meets network security policy before it can pass.
Firewalls prevent many simple attacks from succeeding. They can easily block reconnaissance attacks, such as port sweeps or IP scanning. They also restrict remote access to workstations and servers in enterprise environments, in addition to providing a degree of isolation between a network and the Internet at large. This set up can be thought of as a fence that separates a network from the outside world.
Modern firewalls also incorporate and integrate with other security controls to provide an added level of defence. These include intrusion detection and prevention systems, application-layer scanning, and other advanced defences that monitor for and block sophisticated attack attempts.
Networking communication protocols make it possible for the Internet to work. Unfortunately, criminals can use those trusted systems to obscure malicious data and penetrate your network defences undetected.
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