Another Layer of Protection

A look at firewalls.

In the real world, a firewall is a physical structure used to separate two adjoining houses. The hope is that if a fire breaks out in one house, the firewall will prevent the fire from leaping to the adjoining house. With computers, the idea is similar. Firewalls can be either hardware or software, but they often stand between your computer network and the outside world, in the hope of preventing a malware attack from gaining access.

In this PCMag article, Neil J. Rubenking looks at the current state of firewalls. In years past, most people installed stand-alone firewall software. However, Rubenking points out that the Windows operating system already includes a full-featured firewall. Similarly, home networks typically have firewall protection via the router, and many security software suites include a firewall too. Ultimately, although stand-alone firewall software is still available, chances are good that you're already protected by the firewalls that are already in your system.

Supporting Web Links

Discussion Questions/Activities
  1. As a class, review the concepts of firewalls and the role they play in keeping home and business networks safe from hackers and malware. 
  2. Divide the class into small groups and have each group explore one or more firewall options. Students may want to review the Firewall Tools link from the Supporting Web Links section, or they may wish to research a tool they already know about. Each group should put together a presentation to display their findings to the class.
  3. As an individual project, ask students to examine their own devices to determine if they are protected by a firewall. Ask students to capture a screenshot, if possible, of the firewall's control panel or dashboard. Students should write up a brief description of their results.

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