Functional Areas

Home

Internet Firewalls

 

An Internet firewall is a system or group of systems that enforces a security policy between an organization's network and the Internet. The firewall determines which inside services may be accessed from the outside, which outsiders are permitted access to the permitted inside services, and which outside services may be accessed by insiders. For a firewall to be effective, all traffic to and from the Internet must pass through the firewall, where it can be inspected (Figure 1). The firewall must permit only authorized traffic to pass, and the firewall itself must be immune to penetration. Unfortunately, a firewall system cannot offer any protection once an attacker has gotten through or around the firewall.

 
It is important to note that an Internet firewall is not just a router, a bastion host, or a combination of devices that provides security for a network. The firewall is part of an overall security policy that creates a perimeter defense designed to protect the information resources of the organization. This security policy must include published security guidelines to inform users of their responsibilities; corporate policies defining network access, service access, local and remote user authentication, dial-in and dial-out, disk and data encryption, and virus protection measures; and employee training. All potential points of network attack must be protected with the same level of network security. Setting up an Internet firewall without a comprehensive security policy is like placing a steel door on a tent.