What is a firewall, and what does it do for you? A firewall is a way to restrict access between the Internet and your internal network. You typically install a firewall at the point of maximum leverage, the point where your network connects to the Internet. The existence of a firewall at your site can greatly reduce the odds that outside attackers will penetrate your internal systems and networks. The firewall can also keep your own users from compromising your systems by sending dangerous information -- unencrypted passwords and sensitive data -- to the outside world.
The attacks on Internet-connected systems we are seeing today are more serious and more technically complex than those in the past. To keep these attacks from compromising our systems, we need all the help we can get. Firewalls are a highly effective way of protecting sites from these attacks. For that reason, we strongly recommend you include a firewall in your site's overall Internet security plan. However, a firewall should be only one component in that plan. It's also vital that you establish a security policy, that you implement strong host security, and that you consider the use of authentication and encryption devices that work with the firewalls you install. This book will touch on each of these topics while maintaining its focus on firewalls.
Part I, "Network Security", explores the problem of Internet security and focuses on firewalls as part of an effective strategy to address that problem.
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