How a Firewall Works

Computers communicate by sending electronic messages to each other. On the Internet, millions of computers send messages back and forth, so each computer on the Internet has a unique address, called an IP address, that’s used to distinguish that computer from all the others. When a message is sent from one computer to another, it’s divided into small pieces, called packets. Each packet contains the IP address of both the sending computer and the destination computer. These packets travel separately through the Internet until they reach the destination computer. Once all the packets arrive, they’re reassembled into the original message.

When a computer is connected to the Internet, it constantly sends and receives packets of information. Typically, this information is something useful. For instance, Web browsers receive packets that contain Web pages, and e-mail programs send packets that contain e-mail messages.

Sometimes your computer might receive packets of harmful data. For example, someone might send packets containing a program that scans your computer for weaknesses and then exploits those weaknesses. Other packets might contain malicious programs that can harm your data or steal personal information. To protect your computer from these threats, you should use a firewall to prevent harmful packets from entering your computer and gaining access to your data .

A firewall monitors and filters packets that are received by your computer. It prevents outsiders from making unauthorized connections to your computer, and it hides information about your computer from other computers on the Internet. Only the packets of information that your computer has specifically requested are allowed to pass; all others are silently discarded. In addition, the firewall can keep track of attempts to scan or compromise your computer, and it can store that information in log files.

While using a firewall greatly increases your online security, keep in mind that it is limited to monitoring the Internet connection. It does not scan Internet content, such as web sites, downloaded files, or e-mail messages, for viruses. Also, it does not protect your computer from intruders that have physical access to your computer or network

To get help checking your firewall status contact us at CCS Retail Systems.

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