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Benefits & Pitfalls of firewalls in a network

 network firewall

Benefits

  • Secures a computer network from hostile intrusions.
  • Firewalls can monitor and record information. This can be of value in determining who is accessing what type of information.
  • Firewalls can be used to complement or supplement content and email filtering solutions.
  • Firewalls can automatically block most email viruses and malware attacks even before they start.
  • Firewalls can be set up to allow access for certain users to access certain information but prevent others from doing so.
  • Firewalls can also calculate usage of the internet, i.e. who spends most time using the internet and how this affects the performance of the network.
  • Some firewalls can cause constraints or bottlenecks on the network as they concentrate security in one area.
  • Organisations need to have a written policy or procedure that outlines what information can be accessed by employees and by whom. A firewall can be used to enforce these policies.


Pitfalls

  • Because firewalls inspect every piece of information transferred between users sending information or people downloading information from the Internet, they can slow down the network.
  • You have to bear in mind that running and managing a firewall can be costly in terms of resources and budget. There tend to be issues about who manages the firewall and who decides on the policies, i.e. who can access what information and what websites are appropriate or relevant to the organisational needs.
  • Firewalls cannot alert an administrator that pornographic material is being accessed so it is sometimes best to implement a content monitoring or filtering program as well.
  • Some firewalls claim to be proficient at protecting networks from virus attacks and other malware. This is generally not the case and the user needs to check how effective the firewall is or purchase third party antivirus software.
  • Firewalls can be restrictive in certain circumstances. If, for example, an email with an important attachment such as a business proposal is stopped by the firewall because it is deemed to be in breach of the company’s security policies, it might have an effect on the business.
  • If a firewall is installed incorrectly it can prevent users accessing important information on the internet.
Tagged under Network Security

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