Byte-Size Tech: Firewalls and Your Internet Connection

Corbitt and Hadley of Anderson Technologies walk through the features and benefits of firewalls. What does this essential piece of a network actually do? What common internet problems could be solved by proper configuration?

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Hadley: Hi everyone! It’s Corbitt and Hadley with another episode of Byte-Size Tech. This is part two of our three-part series on your internet. Today we’re going to be talking about firewalls.

Corbitt: What is a firewall? The main purpose of a firewall is to be the first line of defense from a cybersecurity perspective. Think of the outer moat, or the outer wall around your castle, and that castle is your business.

Hadley: Another benefit to firewalls as they can help increase the uptime of your business with a mechanism called smart failover. For example, you can have a primary and a secondary internet connection that are connected to your firewall. In the event that your primary internet, say AT&T, has an internet outage, your firewall will automatically failover to say Spectrum or Charter, and your employees won’t even know there was an outage.

Corbitt: Another benefit that a firewall provides is the ability to manage what kind of traffic is allowed on your network. It can block and prevent your users from getting to certain websites, such as YouTube, Facebook, any of those time wasters. If you want to make sure that people aren’t doing that during the workday, you can block those websites and make it so that they can’t go to those at all.

On the flip side, if there are certain applications or websites that you want to prioritize, and make sure that they always have a good amount of bandwidth allocated to them, you can do that as well. A great example of that is if you have a voice over IP (VoIP) phone system, obviously those phone calls are traversing over the top of an internet connection. If you want to make sure that internet bandwidth is always available to make and receive calls, you can carve out a slice of bandwidth to make sure that nothing will ever hamper or hinder that sliver, enabling you to make and receive phone calls no matter what.

Hadley: Because no one wants a fuzzy or scratchy phone call.

There is one gotcha to firewalls. That is related to firewall size. There’s different types of firewalls and a lot of the differences relate to throughput. That means how much internet bandwidth is able to traverse through your firewall. For example, if you had a one gig or a 1000-megabit internet connection that you’re paying for at AT&T, but your firewall is only sized to handle 100 or 200 megabits, you’re going to have a problem because that internet is going to get bottlenecked and throttled. It doesn’t matter how fancy the internet is you’re paying for, it’s never going to be realized into your business. You want to make sure that you purchase a firewall that gives you room to grow and that isn’t going to be bottlenecking your internet.

Corbitt: There is a lot to think about with firewalls, but the main component is that their main goal and their number one priority is to be a protection from a cybersecurity perspective. But also, they can do a lot with how to manage and prioritize your internet traffic to make sure your network is operating at its best.

We’ll see you next time in episode three of the internet series.

Hadley: Bye, everyone.