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A firewall is like a gatekeeper for your devices. They can add safety and guard against unwanted access or malware.

Movies often show hackers fighting their way through firewalls, but how real is that? And what does that mean? Do firewalls really help stop cyber crime? Take two minutes and get caught up.

What’s a firewall?

On a computer network, a firewall is a system that uses a set of rules to either allow or deny access to your devices. Think of it like a strict bouncer at a nightclub. Forgot your ID? You can’t come in. No shirt, no security credentials? No entry.

What does a firewall really do?

A firewall acts as a filter that allows only some things into your home network — like your trusted devices — and bars any untrusted outside access. It can help block unauthorized users or programs from accessing your devices and allow the ones you do want. Firewalls enforce the rules you set to determine what comes through.

Firewalls are included in all main operating systems, including Mac OS, Windows and Linux. These devices and services have default security settings, but you can set them to allow more or less access.

Why you might use a firewall?

  1. You work from home or do business from your personal computer. A firewall will act as a filter, blocking unsolicited calls to your device — kind of like hiding you from curious cyber criminals looking for a target.
  2. You have sensitive personal information on your devices. In most cases Firewalls help limit who can talk to your devices without being invited first. They make it harder to take advantage of your device by limiting what outsiders can see over the internet.

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