The Origin and the Future of Firewalls

A firewall serves the purpose of keeping danger from outside away from destroying something important. When trains were a popular form of transportation, they normally used coal furnaces. Unfortunately, these coal engines would explode at times, causing a great fire that quickly spread to the passenger sections of the train. In order to protect passengers, (after all, dead passengers don't aren't repeat riders) walls were built around the engines to prevent fires from spreading. These original firewalls are the basis of the modern firewall used to provide security to computer users on the Internet.

In the Beginning

When computers first became popular, people loved having the chance to share files and interact with other computer users. It became clear, however, that criminals will find their way into any place that people congregate, and so it was with the Internet. The 1980s saw computers falling victim to several malicious bugs and invasions by would-be information thieves. This prompted the development of special routers that helped contain information within a particular network. Those who would do damage, however, continually find ways around this and safer systems needed to be put in place.

Today

The modern firewall is normally a software program that is either installed onto a computer or already integrated into the OS. It is designed to allow some things to pass through from one network to another and it filters out other programs based upon individual "rules" set forth by the developer or the administrator of the network. This ability for individuals to make rules allows a firewall to serve many purposes. This allows for cybersecurity needs that differ from one network to another.

  • Compensate for security holes in operating systems
    Operating systems have traditionally been the means by which hackers and viruses make entry to a computer. Firewalls help close security gaps that may arise in these systems.

  • Preventing access to information
    Hackers are unable to get into a secure system that may contain information such as health records or other personal data that can lead to identity theft.

  • Preventing information leaks
    When a company deals with sensitive data, the administrator can set up rules that limit what information can be sent out, and what computers within the network can send that information.

  • Enforcing policy
    Some places limit what users can have access to. For example, schools often block all but a few websites to insure students do not frequent websites that are not appropriate

  • Auditing
    Employees are often tempted to spend work hours on sites that limit their productivity. With proper firewalls, an employer can make non-work-related sites unavailable and get notified when an employee tries to access these sites.

The Future

As long as there is an Internet, cybersecurity positions for firewall developers will always exist. Hackers find ways around current systems, new devices require new ways to provide security, and people with time on their hands find develop new malicious programs that can destroy whole networks. There is a great need for individuals who can keep one step ahead of these threats to users. Just as old-time train passengers wouldn't ride when they felt unsafe, people today and in the future will refrain from using the Internet if they feel they are at risk. The easy connection we currently have between users worldwide will quickly disappear unless these trained individuals in cybersecurity continue to work toward providing a safe user experience.

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