A firewall is a software program or a piece of hardware that controls traffic in and out of your computer or network. Software programs are generally included in a new computer purchase and they are designed to screen out the malicious stuff trying to reach your computer through the Internet. Hardware firewalls do the same and much more.

The decision to purchase a hardware firewall is based on a simple question – do you have data to protect? If you are a one computer operation or if you’re thinking about your home computer you most likely have a software firewall, but it may not be enough. Think about a bank – yes, they lock the money in a vault but they still lock the front door, right? If you have sensitive data on your computer you want to stop the bad guys at the front door, which in this case is the Internet connection to your computer. The software firewall on a computer should be the last line of defense.

Once you are utilizing multiple computers on the same network a hardware firewall is a no brainer. Not only do you need to worry about what is coming at you, but you need to worry about what your people are doing on the Internet. With this type of firewall you are able to control inbound / outbound traffic, apply policies (for example, no streaming music or inappropriate websites) and enforce compliance. You’ll also be able to control the flow of traffic within your network. Controlling internal traffic is huge when you allow others to use your Internet connection or if you want to make sure some employees don’t have access to sensitive information.

As with many technology decisions, you will have to consult your budget but most importantly you need to carefully review what data you have and what needs to be protected. A data loss can quickly diminish your reputation and the trusting relationships you have with your clients.

Mythos Technology is an IT consulting and management firm. For more information, please call (951) 813-2672.