With the amount of malware and security concerns that have become our daily norm, it should be a given that we all need some kind of security to keep our networks as safe as possible. In some cases, we want to have more control over what comes into our networks. The word “firewall” is thrown around a lot, but without knowing more about them, the fact that your modem has one might seem good enough. But is it?
Instead of accepting the firewall that came with your Windows 10 computer, you should instead look into the difference between hardware and software firewalls.
Hardware firewalls are a physical device that you connect to your network of computers in your home or office. It is plugged into the modem directly, separating the computers from the modem. All data that comes in through the modem is inspected through a hardware firewall before it can be released to the computers. Any data that seems potentially dangerous is then blocked and prevented from going any further along your network.
BlueGadgetTooth has a list of recommended hardware firewalls, if that seems like the direction that you are going. Hardware firewalls work really well for businesses, but can be tricky to set up for multiple computers without the help of an IT department. If you already have a dedicated IT person, this might be simple to put together.
Instead of an external device, software firewalls are installed on either your modem or your computers. Software firewalls are usually better at differentiating between programs on a computer and malware, which is a weakness of hardware firewalls. Because they can tell the difference, they can allow one program to come through while blocking another. Windows 10 computers all contain built-in software firewalls that will block out certain types of malware.
Additionally, software firewalls can filter outgoing data as well as incoming data. Their biggest drawbacks are that they do allow more data in than hardware firewalls do. Windows 10’s software firewall will block malware from the entire network, but they are often limited in their abilities since they are packaged as a part of the operating system. This layer of defence should be adequate for the average home network, but they do lack the advanced features and control that you would get from using a hardware firewall.
Using Both Types
The best type of protection that you can get is to use both types of firewalls together. That way, whatever data is missed by one can be caught by the other. This type of security lockdown will ask you more often to review the information and may catch safe information that you are trying to get, but it will certainly keep the worst types of malware out of your network.
Because the two types of firewalls work in different ways, there should not be any issues with compatibility. This is not the case if you are using two software firewalls, such as one from your Windows 10 computer and one in your modem. Two software firewalls can hinder operation and cause confusion along the network. You will not have compatibility issues with a software and hardware firewall, however.
Ultimately, it comes down to what you are really hoping to control along your network. If you are intending to block access to gaming consoles or other devices, you need a hardware firewall to help you lock it down. If you are just filtering on your computer, a software firewall might be ideal. Having both types in place will give you the best security and the most options available as far as settings and control go.
If you think that combining two firewalls is the safest thing for your network, whether you have a home or business network, you will need to make sure that it is set up with care. Because so much data is at risk of being blocked, the risk of losing information is high if the firewalls have not been configured properly. Ideally, you would have a professional IT member help you set this up to ensure that your internet will not be slowed down by blocking out legitimate data, or at least someone who knows what they’re doing.