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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.

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 prevents 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.

What firewall protection should I use?

 

We recommend firewall protection from McAfee® Total Protection. This program allows you to safeguard your devices and block hackers from accessing your home network system. It includes a two-way firewall that filters both incoming and outgoing traffic, as well as protection for all your devices, your identity and your data, protecting you at home and on the go.

But while firewall protection is a great first-line 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.
  • Don’t click on links or open attachments from people you don’t know. You could unknowingly be giving them access to your device
  • Know 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 finding and installing the right firewall protection for you and your family, and following the tips above, you’ll be one step closer to keeping your data and devices secure.