A blog about cutting edge technology at its maximum pace.

Ritesh Warke On Wednesday, January 5, 2011
If you have been using
Internet on a regular
basis or working in a
large company and surf
the Internet while you
are at work, you must have surely come
across the term
firewall. You might

have also heard of
people saying
“firewalls protect their computer from web
attacks and hackers ” or “a certain website has been blocked by
firewall in their work
place”. If you have ever wondered to know
what exactly is this
firewall and how it
works, here we go. In
this post I will try to
explain “How firewalls work ” in a layman ’s terms. How Firewalls Work Firewalls are basically a
barrier between your
computer (or a
network) and the
Internet (outside
world). A firewall can be simply compared to
a security guard who
stands at the entrance
of your house and
filters the visitors
coming to your place. He may allow some
visitors to enter while
denying others whom
he suspects of being
intruders. Similarly a
firewall is a software program or a hardware
device that filters the
information (packets)
coming through the
Internet to your
personal computer or a computer network.
Firewalls may decide to
allow or block
network traffic
between devices based
on the rules that are pre-configured or set
by the firewall
administrator. Most
personal firewalls such
as Windows firewall
operate on a set of pre- configured rules that
are most suitable under
normal circumstances
so that the user need
not worry much about
configuring the firewall.
Personal firewalls are
easy to install and use
and hence preferred by
end-users for use on
their personal computers. However
large networks and
companies prefer those
firewalls that have
plenty of options to
configure so as to meet their customized needs.
For example, a
company may set up
different firewall rules
for FTP servers, Telnet
servers and Web servers. In addition the
company can even
control how the
employees connect to
the Internet by
blocking access to certain websites or
restricting the transfer
of files to other
networks. Thus in
addition to security, a
firewall can give the company a tremendous
control over how
people use the
Firewalls use one or
more of the following methods to control the
incoming and outgoing
traffic in a network:
1. Packet Filtering: In
this method packets
(small chunks of data) are analyzed against a
set of filters. Packet
filters has a set of rules
that come with accept
and deny actions which
are pre-configured or can be configured
manually by the
firewall administrator.
If the packet manages
to make it through
these filters then it is allowed to reach the
destination; otherwise
it is discarded.
2. Stateful Inspection:
This is a newer method
that doesn ’t analyze the contents of the
packets. Instead it
compares certain key
aspects of each packet
to a database of trusted
source. Both incoming and outgoing packets
are compared against
this database and if the
comparison yields a
reasonable match, then
the packets are allowed to travel further.
Otherwise they are
Firewall Configuration
Firewalls can be
configured by adding one or more filters
based on several
conditions as
mentioned below:
1. IP addresses: In any
case if an IP address outside the network is
said to be unfavorable,
then it is possible to set
filter to block all the
traffic to and from that
IP address. For example, if a cetain IP
address is found to be
making too many
connections to a server,
the administrator may
decide to block traffic from this IP using the
2. Domain names: Since
it is difficult to
remember the IP
addresses, it is an easier and smarter way to
configure the firewalls
by adding filters based
on domain names. By
setting up a domain
filter, a company may decide to block all
access to certain domain
names, or may provide
access only to a list of
selected domain names.
3. Ports/Protocols: Every service running
on a server is made
available to the
Internet using
numbered ports, one
for each service. In simple words, ports can
be compared to virtual
doors of the server
through which services
are made available. For
example, if a server is running a Web (HTTP)
service then it will be
typically available on
port 80. In order to
avail this service, the
client needs to connect to the server via port
80. Similarly different
services such as Telnet
(Port 23), FTP (port 21)
and SMTP (port 25)
services may be running on the server.
If the services are
intended for the public,
they are usually kept
open. Otherwise they
are blocked using the firewall so as to
prevent intruders from
using the open ports
for making
connections. 4. Specific words or
phrases: A firewall can
be configured to filter
one or more specific
words or phrases so
that, both the incoming and outgoing packets
are scanned for the
words in the filter. For
example, you may set
up a firewall rule to
filter any packet that contains an offensive
term or a phrase that
you may decide to
block from entering or
leaving your network.
Hardware vs. Software Firewall
Hardware firewalls
provide higher level of
security and hence
preferred for servers
where security has the top most priority
whereas, the software
firewalls are less
expensive and are most
preferred in home
computers and laptops. Hardware firewalls
usually come as an in-
built unit of a router
and provide maximum
security as it filters each
packet in the hardware level itself even before
it manages to enter
your computer. A good
example is the Linksys
Cable/DSL router.
Why Firewall? Firewalls provide
security over a number
of online threats such as
Remote login, Trojan
backdoors, Session
hijacking, DOS & DDOS attacks, viruses, cookie
stealing and many
more. The effectiveness
of the security depends
on the way you
configure the firewall and how you set up the
filter rules. However
major threats such as
DOS and DDOS attacks
may sometimes
manage to bypass the firewalls and do the
damage to the server.
Even though firewall is
not a complete answer
to online threats, it can
most effectively handle the attacks and provide
security to the
computer up to the
maximum possible

                                                  HACKING TRICKS AND NEWS


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