A firewall sits between your computer and the internet and prevents unauthorised access to your pc or network. It acts as a “gatekeeper”, preventing malicious programs and port scanners gaining access to your pc via ports (ports are holes that allow access to your computer).

Firewalls don’t automatically stop all traffic – you can choose what types of programs to allow access to from your pc. Your firewall may automatically block access to traffic you have decided to block, or you may see a pop-up a message to alert you to the attempted activity so you can decide whether to accept it or to block it.

A firewall can be a software application or piece of hardware (a router or wireless router – check yours comes with a firewall as not all do). Software is more often used for a single home pc. Businesses, or home users with networks, may need a hardware firewall. However most hardware firewalls only check incoming data.

Some operating systems come with a firewall. You can add to this with free or pay-for firewalls, anti spyware software and anti virus software (or a security suite with all these features included) to ensure you are fully protected.

By Sarah at UK Broadband Finder
Read my Broadband Glossary disclaimer

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