Understanding Firewalls: What Are They, and How Do They Work?

understanding firewalls

A firewall is a line of defense against threats to your network or individual electronics and computers. Knowing what a firewall is and how it works is essential for every business in every industry.

There’s an urgent need for companies to have solid firewalls in place to ensure the privacy and security of their systems, networks, and data from cybercriminals. And that starts with understanding firewalls.

What Is a Firewall?

A firewall is a security feature installed in electronic devices and servers. These firewalls allow for monitoring of both incoming and outgoing traffic for a specific network. Firewalls come as installed hardware, downloaded software, or a hybrid of both. 

How Does a Firewall Work?

A firewall offers protection from potential threats and exposure by analyzing small portions of data attempting to connect with the network called data packets. There are a few methods for incorporating a firewall to shield or monitor data packets by filtering or mirroring.

The Benefits of Firewalls

Firewalls provide you with the ability to prevent access to a network without meeting pre-defined criteria or without analyzing the data packet characteristics. Each type of firewall has its specific benefits and drawbacks, but overall firewalls across the board offer these benefits:

  • Anonymity and safeguard from visibility to others online
  • Protects information from unauthorized users
  • Blocks access to dangerous websites
  • Shields devices from malware

The Different Types of Firewalls

Firewalls use a few methods to monitor activity and traffic to a specific network. 

So which firewall do you choose? Having a top Managed Service Provider or MSP is the best way to select the best approach for your cybersecurity needs.

Packet Filtering

When data is trying to enter the network, the features of the data packages are run against filtering specifications to determine if they are threats. Packet filtering allows for a faster packet process and allows more security filtering and flexibility. 


The circuit-level gateway serves to track active sessions for established Transmission Control Protocol or TCP. Much like packet filtering, they provide a single check but operate on a high layer of the Open System Interconnection. They keep the IP address and identity of the network anonymous, placing it a step above the packet filtering firewall. 

Stateful Inspection

When you use stateful inspection firewalls, there’s a pre-defined database of information deemed trustworthy. Each packet is analyzed against these definitions to provide better security. With stateful inspection, you get more robust logging and prevent more DoS attacks. 

Proxy Servers

There is also the option to use a proxy server, which provides a barrier between the system and the incoming data packets. This occurs by mirroring the system or computer and serves to protect the network. However, this has limited abilities and isn’t ideal for all applications. 

A Reliable MSP Is Your Best Line of Defense

Unfortunately, firewalls are not impenetrable. If an employee clicks on an infected link through an email or website, hackers can gain access to the device through Trojans.

If you’re serious about protecting your network and want to get the best firewall protection for your business, you need a top MSP like Tolar System. With years of insight, Tolar Systems has the tools necessary to provide elite protection from various threats. 

If you’re looking for cybersecurity in Texas, now is the time to get together with Tolar Systems to talk about your technology, starting with a free, no-obligation consultation for your business.