IT Security Tip #66: Routers are $100 at the big-box stores – why do I need a $900 firewall AND pay a maintenance fee?
Routers and firewalls can be confusing – they essentially serve the same purpose of distributing Internet to devices on the network. A router like you’d purchase at a big-box store is designed to serve the needs of home, not the needs of business. It’s likely more important that the Xbox has a great WiFi signal so little Jimmy can play his game, rather than being able to deny all Internet access from North Korea.
What is a firewall?
A firewall, unlike a router, is intelligent. You typically pay a subscription fee because the firewall is constantly updating itself to protect against the newest cyber-attacks. Unlike a router, the firewall actually looks at all Internet traffic passing through it to make sure it’s legitimate, not a virus, and was requested from a computer inside. They also allow us to block access totally to some third-world countries known for producing cyber-attacks. A good firewall can also let you know what your staff has been up to – who’s that looking on careerbuilder.com for five hours?
Protect your business network!
Don’t cheap out, and don’t buy your gate to the Internet for your business at a big-box store. It truly is the gate between your business and the rest of the world – and you want a strongly armed guard, not a non-intelligent robot. If you can afford to invest in one thing, get a good firewall!