What is a firewall?

Firewalls are software programs or hardware devices that filter and examine the information coming through your Internet connection. They represent a first line of defense because they can stop a malicious program or attacker from gaining access to your network and information before any potential damage is done.

But there’s more than one type of firewall out there. It’s important to understand the difference between hardware firewalls and software firewalls to best protect yourself at home and on the go.

Hardware Firewall

What is a hardware firewall?


Hardware firewalls are included with some routers and require little to no configuration, since they are built into your hardware. These firewalls monitor traffic to all the computers and devices that are connected to that router’s network, meaning you can filter access to all of them with just one piece of equipment.

Hardware firewalls provide essential security for the Internet of Things (IoT), like smart thermostats and smart light bulbs. These new devices often come with weak security features, which can leave your network vulnerable, but a hardware firewall helps prevent this lapse in security.

To set up your hardware firewall, use the hardware firewall that is built into your home router or gateway. Consult the manual that came with your router, or do a quick online search to find steps to walk you through the setup.

However, hardware firewalls only protect you at home, so if you take your computer to a café or use your device on-the-go, you’ll need to look into a software firewall to help keep it protected.

What is a software firewall?

Software firewalls help keep you protected on the go. They run as a program on your computer or other devices and closely watch network traffic to help intercept malicious programs before they reach your computer.

Firewall Protection

What firewall protection should I use?


We recommend our Advanced firewall featured in our McAfee+ plans. McAfee's Advanced firewall allows you to safeguard your devices by blocking dangerous outbound destinations with McAfee's Advanced firewall. One of the biggest cybersecurity threats arises when connected to malicious online interactions. These interactions pose a significant risk for cybercrime using methods like data exfiltration attacks to steal personal data. McAfee Advanced firewall will keep users safe by providing a secure experience even when your apps are running in the background.

While firewall protection is a great defense, it's also a good idea to follow these top tips for protecting your data and devices:

  • Don't click on links or open attachments from people you don't know. You could unknowingly be giving them access to your device.
  • Remember that each new internet-connected device you bring into your home is a potential avenue of attack. Make sure to reset any default passwords and keep those devices current with the latest manufacturer updates.

By boosting your network protection with McAfee Advanced Firewall and following the tips above, you and your family will be one step closer to keeping your data and devices secure.