If you are an internet user, you probably know the many threats lurking on the World Wide Web. It is important to protect your computer from the attacks of viruses and ensuring that your firewall is working fine is imperative.
It is the job of the firewall to protect your system from incoming threats that can break down the system, sometimes even impacting the work stored on it. The mere thought of this becoming a reality feels like a nightmare.
Windows and Macs have inbuilt firewall programs as does your broadband router. Your work, however, is to make sure the firewall is working properly.
Why Are Firewalls Important?
The proper functioning of your system’s firewall is important for the following reasons.
- A firewall keeps your system safe from hackers who seek access to your system remotely.
- It is a great way of protecting your data.
- It ensures your privacy is maintained throughout.
- It provides protection from Trojans.
Types of Firewalls
There are several types of firewalls that people use to protect their systems and data. Some of these include the following.
This is a firewall that is automatically installed in systems. They are extremely effective in keeping your system safe from threats and attacks from potentially harmful sources.
Similar to a traffic router, a hardware firewall works by ensuring that malicious threats are blocked from entering your system.
Operating at the application layer, this firewall filters incoming traffic between your network and the traffic source. They add a layer between your system and first assess the incoming data packet for security.
The only downside to this otherwise highly effective firewall is that it can sometimes slow down the system.
Cloud firewalls are synonymous with proxy firewalls. These are easily scalable firewalls that are designed to take in additional capacity and are extremely adept at perimeter security.
How to Check If Your Firewall Is Protecting You Well?
The best way to test your firewall is to check it from outside. You can make use of several tools to do this such as ShieldUP. This enables you to run scans against your network IP address.
Here is the type of scans ShieldUP makes available to you.
This checks all vulnerable ports and services. If these are functional on your system, it ain’t good news. Hackers might be lurking within your system and may even have access to your files.
Common Ports Test
This test helps you check the efficacy of the stealth mode of your firewall. It does this by examining the ports used by vulnerable services such as Telnet and FTP.
All Ports and Services Test
This is a holistic test that helps you check all your ports from 0 to 1056. It uses different colors to highlight the ones that are safe while the ones that need attention.
Red ports should instantly draw your attention and you should undertake a thorough test to check what’s running on those ports.
You need to cross-check your firewall settings to see if you have added such ports for any specific reason. If there isn’t a good reason for this, you should be alarmed as this could indicate a potential threat from malware.
If you aren’t able to pinpoint the problem still, make sure to run anti-malware software to be doubly sure.
Messenger Spam Test
This is a Microsoft messenger test to check if your firewall is blocking this service. If this is the case, harmful malware and hackers can send you messages to access your data. If you are a Mac user, this test is not targeted for you.
Browser Disclosure Test
Though not a specific firewall test, this is a great way to keep your system safe and secure. This test helps reveal the information your system is revealing about you.
In an ideal situation, the test will reveal that your system is functioning properly in stealth mode and you have no open ports visible from the outside. If you get this, you should be grateful that your system is working fine and you are not at the risk of attracting malware and viruses.
Other Hardware Firewall Testing Tools
There are a number of reputed firewall testing tools that can help you check the efficacy of your firewall. ShieldUP is just one of them.
This is considered to be one of the best open-source security scanning utility, Nessus can help you check your firewall and other application-based vulnerabilities.
Network mapper, or Nmap as it is commonly known, has emerged as a trusted source for several administrators and systems. The benefit of Nmap is that it can be used for large system organizations.
Netcat comes with a lot of superior features that help you check the inbound and outbound connections from any number of ports, buffered send mode, and many other complex testing methods making it ideal for people needing multilayered security.
How to Check If Your Windows Firewall Is Working Properly?
It is mandatory to ensure that your firewall is up and running. This is because internet browsing is getting more and more invasive these days with the looming great of hackers all around waiting to devour your data.
You can follow the steps below to check if your firewall is really working well.
Begin with the Start Menu
The ‘system and security’ folder of the control panel app is where the Windows firewall program is located. However, an easy way to access it is through the start menu located at the bottom left of the screen.
Type in ‘firewall’ to locate the program easily. You will find the ‘windows firewall’ option. Click on it.
Review Your Firewall Settings
If your firewall is active, you will see two sections titled ‘private network’ and ‘guest network’ with green shields situated next to them.
You can check your private and public networks by clicking on each of the options and choosing the drop-down menu. It has all the necessary details.
Go to the ‘Advanced Settings’ Option
Clicking on this option, you should be able to see your firewall’s advanced settings. This gives you access to the following:
- Inbound rules
- Outbound rules
- Connection security rules
These options together will give you a holistic view of the firewall settings, including but not limited to, the incoming and outbound connections, which connections your firewall will automatically block, and the likes.
Exit the Settings Option
Once you are satisfied with the settings of your firewall and convinced that everything is working well, you can exit the advanced setting option.
You also have the option of turning off your firewall. This is not recommended, especially if you are on a public network that may introduce threats and viruses to your system.
How to Check If Your Mac Firewall Is Working Properly?
You can follow easy steps to check if your firewall is working well on your Mac.
Start from the Apple Icon
You need to go to the Apple icon on the top left of your Mac system to access your firewall settings. You should find it in the ‘System Preferences’ option in the main drop-down menu.
Go to the ‘Security and Privacy’ Tab
You will find the firewall tab in this menu. You will need to unlock this using administrative credentials. By default, the firewall in Macs is disabled and you need to turn it on.
Check the ‘Firewall Options’
This is where you will find all the firewall options. You can find the following options here:
- Block all incoming connections
- Allow automatic connections on a signed in system
- Enable stealth mode
Follow the instructions and choose the things you want to. This should take care of the smooth functioning of your firewall.
Are There Any Downsides to Firewalls?
Though firewalls are extremely crucial to maintain your privacy and security, there are certain downsides to it.
Firewalls are expensive particularly hardware firewalls. Installations and maintenance costs also need to be budgeted.
If you don’t want to go for a hardware firewall, at least go for a software firewall that is easy to use and cheaper to maintain.
Though firewalls are considered extremely potent in providing security to your system, they do not cater to all types of malware. This is the reason several people use a firewall in conjunction with anti-malware software from end to end protection of their system and work.
Firewalls work best for individual people. However, it could be complex for large organizations that need to cater to a number of employees.
The Final Word
Weighing in both the negatives and positives of firewalls, one can still conclude that a firewall is imperative for safety and security. You must check your windows system or Mac settings occasionally to make sure your firewall is active and working well.
The costs will be worth it when your data and hard work are safe and away from the reach of hackers!
Lorenzo has been using the internet for as long as he can remember. He was there for the early days of message boards, he watched social media take over, and he’s excited to see what comes next.