What is firewall?
A barrier designed to help protect your personal, private information from being stolen by criminals is called a firewall, and is a common weapon in the fight against identity theft.
But there are many options on the market, and not all offer the same level of protection.
Firewalls are by no means a guaranteed way to keep your data safe, but used correctly, can reduce your risk of identity theft.
Firewalls filter the data that pours through your Internet connection – and, for that matter, any other device connected to that Internet source.
Why were firewalls invented?
Firewall origins are, in some ways, steeped in controversy.
Several people claim some responsibility for inventing or creating the modern-day filters, but whatever the case may be, many people trace today’s firewalls back to the 1980s.
The first commercial firewall was reportedly introduced in the early 1990s.
Microsoft, faced with the dilemma of never-ending security attacks from hackers in the 1990s, began to install firewall protection into its Windows software, and continues to do so today.
Types of firewalls
Hardware firewalls may be included in routers, and are often limited to protecting computers in one location.
For instance, if your home router includes a hardware firewall, it will defend your computer against malicious attacks only at your home.
If you take your computer to another location – a coffee shop or college classroom, for instance – hardware firewalls at your home no longer protect you.
That’s where software firewalls become important.
Software firewalls can be installed on your computer to catch dangerous activity flowing through your Internet connection.
They can help determine what information to share or to prevent from being shared across a network or Internet connection.
Which firewall should I choose?
Security experts suggest using a router with a built-in firewall for a “first layer” of protection.
You should also choose software that monitors incoming and outgoing data.
Today’s market provides a host of security software options, most of which cost less than $100.
Many of them consistently rank among the best based on independent reviews of security experts.
Consumer Reports has worked with International Consumer Research & Testing to uncover free and for-purchase software that it believes should protect “all but the most at-risk Internet users” from vicious attacks.
Some free security suites provide not only protection from malware, but firewall security.
For those looking for “convenience and features,” paid options “simplify your security regimen,” according to Consumer Reports.
Paid security software:
- F-Secure Internet Security
- AVG Internet Security
- Avira Antivirus Pro
- McAfee AntiVirus Pro
- BullGuard Internet Security
- Avast! Internet Security
- BitDefender Internet Security 2016
- Trend Micro Internet Security 10
- Kaspersky Internet Security
- ZoneAlarm Pro Antivirus + Firewall 2016
- Panda Antivirus Pro 2016
- Symantec Norton Security Deluxe
- G Data Internet Security
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium
- ESET Smart Security.
Here are some free options:
- AVG Antivirus Free
- Avast! Antivirus 2016
- Avira Free Antivirus 2016
- Microsoft Windows Defender
Before you choose a product, look online for reviews and to ensure the option you choose includes firewall protection.
You can also shore up your personal information and protect it from being stolen by turning off sharing features you don’t need, such as as printer-sharing or file sharing.