What is a Firewall? Firewalls Explained and Why Your Business Needs One

What is a Firewall? Firewalls Explained and Why Your Business Needs One

When it comes to network security, firewalls are essential. Firewalls act as a protective barrier between your business’s internal networks and the outside world, providing an additional layer of protection against malicious actors or unwanted intrusions.  

In this article, we will discuss what exactly a firewall is, how it works and why businesses need them. We will also look at different types of firewalls and identify how to choose the right type for your business. Read on to ensure your business is protected with robust network security!

What is a Firewall?

A firewall is a network security tool that oversees and regulates data flow between networks based on predetermined security rules. Firewalls are typically implemented as software or hardware solutions, and act as the first line of defense against malicious online threats such as hackers, viruses, malware, ransomware, and other cyberattacks.  

Firewalls can be used to protect both private networks (such as those in businesses) from unauthorized access or attacks from the public internet. By using a combination of technologies, firewalls can provide effective protection for your business's data while allowing authorized users to access your private networks securely.

How Does a Firewall Work?

Firewalls play a crucial role in the network security of your business. They serve as a protective 'wall' or barrier that blocks dangerous or unauthorized access while facilitating secure and approved communication.

Infographic explaining how firewalls work. Shows public network with both unwanted and permitted traffic with a brick wall and fire connected to internal network.

The firewall uses various methods to check data packets on the network, deciding if they should be allowed in or kept out of your protected business network.

Types of Firewalls

Firewalls can be either hardware or software based. A hardware firewall is a physical device, similar to a router. A software firewall is an internal program on your computer. 

Firewalls come in a variety of forms, each possessing their own distinct structure and purpose. Depending on your business's network size and the level of security required, you can choose to implement any of the following types of firewalls:

Proxy Firewall

A proxy firewall, also known as an application-level gateway firewall, is delivered via a cloud-based solution. This type of firewall collects information from the internet (outside network) and then sends it to the requesting system (your business network) - essentially playing the middleman.

Stateful Inspection Firewall

A stateful inspection firewall examines information that travels from inside your network to outside. It then compares this data against future packets of information that encounter your network and blocks or allows based off similarities. Think of it as a mirror - if the image looking back looks the same then it will allow access.

Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW)

A next-generation firewall is designed with advanced features such as deep packet inspection, intrusion prevention, URL filtering, antivirus scanning, etc. These features effectively protect businesses against various forms of cyber threat including malware, phishing scams, zero-day exploits, etc.

Unified Threat Management (UTM) Firewall

A unified threat management firewall is an advanced security solution that combines multiple network security technologies such as stateful inspection firewall, intrusion prevention, and network antivirus.

Why do Businesses need Firewalls?

In an environment where cyber threats are increasingly becoming more sophisticated and relentless, having a firewall for your business is no longer an optional luxury, but a necessity.  

Without a firewall, your business is exposed to a myriad of potential cybersecurity threats. Are the following risks of not having a firewall really worth it?

  • Open Access: Without a firewall, you’re leaving the door wide open for every attempted connection to your business network. You have no way of detecting incoming threats, which provides an open invitation to hackers, who can exploit vulnerabilities to steal sensitive data, disrupt operations, or introduce harmful malware. 
  • Non-Compliance: Many industries, such as healthcare, have regulations that dictate the level of network security a business must maintain – largely to protect sensitive customer/patient information. If this applies to your business, you could risk falling into non-compliance with these regulations - which could result in hefty fines, sanctions, or even closure of your business. 
  • Business Continuity Threats: In the worst-case scenario, a major cyber-attack could be so devastating that it threatens the very continuity of your business. This is especially true for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

These risks can be mitigated, and it's here that the benefits of having a firewall come into play. Here are some of the key benefits of utilizing a firewall in your business: 

  • Enhanced Security: A firewall acts as an umbrella protecting your business from the rain of various cyber threats, such as hackers, viruses, malware, and ransomware. 
  • Controlled Access: Firewalls can be configured to control and restrict access to sensitive data and systems within your network, only allowing authorized individuals to gain access. 
  • Improved Network Performance: By blocking unwanted traffic, a firewall can enhance the performance of your network, making it more efficient and reliable. 
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing your business is protected by a firewall allows you to focus on your core operations without worrying about potential cyber threats.

Tips for Choosing the Right Type of Firewall for Your Business

When choosing the right firewall for your business, consider the size of your network, the level of security needed, and the complexity of your operations. If your business lacks the internal expertise to manage network security, consider partnering with a managed IT service provider (MSP) like Pact-One. MSPs have a deep understanding of the cyber threat landscape and can recommend the most suitable firewall type for your specific needs. We can also handle the setup, configuration, and ongoing management of your firewall system, ensuring robust network security while freeing your team to focus on core business tasks.


In the ever-evolving realm of network security, firewalls serve as your business's first line of defense against the relentless tide of cyber threats. From controlling access to sensitive data, to enhancing network performance, to providing peace of mind, the benefits of implementing a firewall are manifold.  

Remember, in today's digital landscape, a well-structured and managed firewall is not just an optional add-on; it's a prerequisite for securing your business's digital assets. Partnering with a managed IT service provider like Pact-One can ensure you have the right firewall system that suits your specific needs and keeps your network secure. Stay vigilant, stay protected. Remember, your firewall is your fortress. 


Are you a business owner or manager in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, or Washington needing assistance in building and maintaining a secure IT infrastructure? Look no further! Pact-One is here to help. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.

Avoid losing your business to data loss. Get our FREE eBook to learn how.Download now