It is a system designed to stop unauthorized access to or through a private network. You can implement a firewall in either or software form or hardware form, or a combination of both. Firewalls prevent unauthorized Internet users from accessing private networks linked to the Internet, especially intranets. All of the messages entering or leaving the intranet (that is the local network to which you are linked) must pass through the firewall, which examines each of the messages and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.

Software Firewalls:

It also sometimes called personal firewalls, are designed to run on a single computer. These are most commonly used on or small office computers and home that have broadband access, which tend to be left on all the time. It prevents unwanted access to the computer over a network connection by preventing and identifying communication over risky ports. Computers communicate over various different recognized ports, and the firewall will tend to allow these without prompting or alerting the user.

It also let certain programs on the user's computer to access the Internet, frequently by express permission of the user. Windows Update, antivirus software, and Microsoft Word are a few programs that a user might expect legitimately to access the Internet.

Hardware Firewalls:

It is more complicated. They also have software components, but run either on a specially engineered network appliance or on an optimized server dedicated to the task of running the firewall. The operating system underlying a hardware firewall is as basic as possible and very complexes to attack. So no other software runs on these machines, and configuration takes a little more thought than clicking on an "allow" prompt, they are hard to compromise and tend to be extremely secure.

Types of firewalls:

Packet filtering:

The system analysis each of the packet entering or leaving the network and accepts or rejects it depend on user-defined rules. Packet filtering is quite effective and transparent to users, but it is hard to configure. Additionally, it is susceptible to IP spoofing.
Circuit-level gateway implementation:

This process applies security mechanisms while a UDP or TCP connection is established. Once the connection has been established, packets can flow among the hosts without further checking.

Acting as a proxy server:

A proxy server is a kind of gateway that hides the true network address of the computer(s) linking through it. A proxy server linked to the Internet, makes the requests for pages, connections to servers, etc., and attains the data on behalf of the computer(s) behind it. The firewall capabilities lie in the fact that a proxy can be configured to let only certain types of traffic to pass (for example HTTP files, or web pages). A proxy server contains the potential drawback of slowing network performance, since it ought to actively analyze and manipulate traffic passing through it.

Web application firewall:

It is a hardware appliance, server plug-in, or some other software filter that applies a set of rules to a HTTP conversation. In general such rules are customized to the application so that various attacks can be identified and blocked.

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