When you connect your computer (or your office network) to
the Internet, there is very often a device that stands as the single greatest
protection between you and malicious users: a firewall. A firewall prevents Internet
traffic from the outside getting to you, while allowing your outbound traffic
(web surfing, email checking) to communicate with the Internet at large.
Firewalls severely limit inbound communication to your
computer, allowing only standard/approved communication and communications you
initiated. While these devices aren’t necessary for you to connect
to the Internet, without them, your computer and entire network can be
vulnerable to attacks from users trying to get info from, or even
take control of, your computer. A firewall does not always protect you from
viruses you may get through downloading files from websites or opening suspect
email, but it serves as the first line of defense against active attacks.
The complexity of firewalls goes well beyond what’s
described here, and firewalls are only one component of a truly safe and secure
networking environment. We recommend that all of our customers and users take
the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their information safe at all
times, starting with a firewall.