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Router Firewall vs. Software Firewall

Jun 28, 2019

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To defend against data loss and theft, companies need as much protection as possible from external threats. Hardware and software firewalls prevent malicious traffic from reaching computers connected to the network, but don't provide the same level of protection. 

Each has advantages and disadvantages. Hardware Firewall The router is the first line of defense against potential threats. The device assigns a private IP address to each of the computers that connect to the local area network, and then uses a process called network address translation to map the private addresses to a single public address. 

NAT acts as a firewall, hiding the true addresses of attached equipment and controlling what traffic reaches each PC. The firewall restricts data transmission through most Transmission Control Protocol and User Datagram Protocol ports - paths IP packets must pass through to reach a host - although businesses can open ports associated with critical applications. 

Software Firewall fire Unlike a firewall on a physical routing device, which protects all of the computers on the LAN, a software firewall just defends the host it's installed to. Software firewalls, however, limit not just what traffic reaches a computer, but also what data leaves the network. For example, most of these firewalls block TCP port 25, the default port for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, which is used to deliver messages to an email server.

Mass-mailing worms abuse port 25 to send spam to new targets, so a typical software-firewall precaution is to block that port unless it's explicitly needed. Companies that use Virtual Private Networks to connect together remote LANs over the Internet need a software firewall to keep worms and other malicious traffic from exiting an affected network. Drawbacks Some NAT firewalls are better than others. D-Link, for example, allow users more control over the TCP and UDP data transmission than some other vendors; administrators can configure the firewall to allow all incoming requests from an application that's already established a connection to a host.

Hardware firewalls require little to no setup; almost all commercial routers have NAT enabled, so computers are protected once connected to the LAN. Software firewalls, on the other hand, can require extensive configuration. Administrators must allow or block each program installed to the computer, as well as limit which services have access to the network. Software firewalls also consume system resources, potentially causing performance issues on low-end devices. 

Considerations Companies should use both a software and hardware firewall for the best defense. Businesses that have a limited budget don't have to spend a lot on endpoint protection. For example, Windows 8 includes a built-in firewall that can restrict specific applications, ports and services from accessing public and private LANs. To create rules for incoming and outgoing connections, press "Windows-W," type "firewall" and then click "Windows Firewall." Select "Advanced Settings" from the left pane.

For ease of administration, firms can also deploy firewall rules via command line. About the Author Ruri Ranbe has been working as a writer since 2008. She received an A.A. in English literature from Valencia College and is completing a B.S. in computer science at the University of Central Florida. Ranbe also has more than six years of professional information-technology experience, specializing in computer architecture, operating systems, networking, server administration, virtualization and Web design.

How to find your Mac's IP address Need to know your Mac's IP address? You've come to the right place. We show how to find this information, as well as explaining what an IP address is and the difference between internal and external IP addresses. What is an IP address? Your IP address is your computer or device's location online. It's where the internet can find you, and how it can identify you, essentially.The IP address is assigned to you by your ISP (Internet Service Provider).  

Networking hardware needs to know this address in order to connect you to the internet, but it does this automatically, and it's quite rare that you'll need to know your IP address yourself. Your IP address can also be used to identify you and track your online activities. Google uses your IP address to localise your search results, for example. If that bothers you, it would be wise to use a VPN - we recommend NordVPN, but there are other options in our Best Mac VPNs roundup.  

External and internal IP addresses There are two kinds of IP address. External (or public) IP address. This is how the internet at large locates and contacts you; it is assigned to you by your ISP when you first go online, and can apply to a device or to an entire network that connects to the internet via a single point. This can appear in either IPv4 (four numbers separated by dots, for a total of around 8-12 digits) or IPv6 (eight numbers separated by digits, for around 30 digits) form. Internal (or private, or local). 

This address is not disclosed to the internet - it's only used within your home network, and applies to a single device. A group of offline computers linked on a private network would use internal IP addresses to talk to each other, and your Wi-Fi router will use internal IP addresses to speak to the various devices that connect to it. This will always be in IPv4 form (four numbers separated by dots) and will nearly always be 192.168.X.X, with the Xs varying from device to device. 

If someone refers to your IP address they probably mean the external one, but we'll show how to find out both in this article. Why would anyone need to know your IP address You might need to know your IP address when setting up certain types of software, It's an unlikely scenario, but if someone had your Router IP address it is possible that they could hack you, so be wary about telling it to anyone. In fact, it could even lead them to you thanks to geolocation data, although to pinpoint your actual location it would probably be necessary to demand the information from your ISP - with a search warrant. How to find your external (public) IP address The method you use here depends on whether you're connected to a router, or directly to a modem. 

If you are directly connected to modem It's more than likely that your ISP has provided you with a combined modem router, and that you connect to this wirelessly, in which case the below steps won't work for you. But just in case you are connected directly to a modem, via an Ethernet cable, here's what to do: Open System Preferences. (Either click the cogs icon in your dock, or hit the Apple logo drop-down menu at the top left of your screen, and then select System Preferences.) Click Network (under the Internet & Wireless section). 

Highlight the option in the left-hand bar that has a green dot, then check the information that appears in the pane on the right. It should say Connected at the top; in the smaller text underneath it will tell you what your router IP address is. If you are connected to a router wirelessly, this will show you the internal IP address, not the external address. We'll look in more detail at how to find out your internal IP address below.