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Firewall: Definition, Function, Advantages & Disadvantages

Last updated: Sep 25, 2023

Firewall: Definition, Function, Advantages & Disadvantages
Illustration of a Firewall as a Computer Security System

What Is Firewall?

Firewalls are computer security systems designed to protect a computer network from threats originating from both external and internal sources.

Compared to other types of security systems, you have to know that its ability to function as a barrier or filter between a secure network and a potentially dangerous network, cannot be underestimated. 

By using this kind of security system, users can prevent unauthorized access, protect sensitive data, and detect potential security attacks such as DDoS attacks, malware, viruses, and hacking.

Firewall Functions

In the realm of security systems, it plays the role of the first barricade of defense. This is why it has several crucial functions, such as:

1. Protection from Threats

One of the advantages of a firewall is its ability to protect computer networks and systems from potentially harmful threats.

This is possible because the security system monitors and inspects incoming and outgoing data traffic within the network.

In this manner, this security system can prevent various cyber attacks that could threaten the security and integrity of the network. 

2. Logging and Auditing

Logging involves the activity of recording network traffic on a device. This activity is typically performed effectively by a firewall.

Through logging, users can monitor and identify potential security threats and assist in further investigation when security incidents occur. 

3. Traffic Filtering

Another advantage of a firewall is its ability to filter traffic based on rules and policies established by network administrators.

This means that the security system can block data flows based on IP addresses, protocols, port numbers, application types, or specific content.

As a result, traffic flows in accordance with network security policies and restricts activities so that only valid and authorized data can pass through a device. 

4. Controlling and Blocking Access

If users wish to have control over access to the network and resources within a security system, then using this security system can be the best choice.

With the right configuration, the security system can limit access to specific services and applications thus determining access permissions based on devices and users.

5. Securing Remote Access

This security system plays a crucial role in securing remote access to computer networks and systems.

Through a Virtual Private Network (VPN), users can securely access internal networks from external locations.

Furthermore, it can also determine access and encrypt data traffic to protect information transmitted between remote clients and internal servers.

The Disadvantages and Advantages of Firewall

Just like other security systems, it also has several advantages and disadvantages. Here is the complete explanation: 

1. Disadvantages

In its implementation, firewalls also have several drawbacks. Here are some of them:

  1. Not an antivirus: This security system focuses on being the primary protector of a computer from various security disturbances. Therefore, if a user's computer is infected with a virus, it will only provide security alerts. 
  2. Cannot prevent internal hacking or data theft:  If the threat originates from within the network, the drawback is its inability to prevent such incidents. This happens because the security system is only active when suspicious activities occur over the internet.
  3. Cannot detect all malware: While it can detect threats present in its database, its ability to detect new malware is still limited.

2. Advantages

Despite having several drawbacks, this security system also offers essential advantages in computer security systems:

  1. Detecting malware threats from websites:  One of the most well-known advantages of firewalls is its ability to identify and block access to dangerous websites or those infected with malware. This way, users can be protected from various threats present on a website.
  2. Preventing users from being redirected to dangerous websites: Typically, malicious websites contain viruses that can manipulate or steal personal information. This security system can prevent user devices from being automatically redirected to such websites.
  3. Blocking websites: It can be configured to block access to a website based on specific criteria, such as category, URL address, or content type.
  4. Warning users when downloading potentially harmful files: They can also provide warnings to users when they attempt to download risky and potentially dangerous files. Through this security system, users will receive alert notifications regarding downloaded files.
  5. Preventing computer hijacking through computer networks: In the current digital landscape, digital crimes, including network hacking such as Brute Force or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), are on the rise. These attacks aim to steal information or crucial data from computers. This security system can also be used to prevent such occurrences. 
  6. Protecting computers when connected to public networks: The final advantage of a firewall is its ability to safeguard devices connected to public networks or Wi-Fi hotspots in public places from hacking attacks.
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