Understand the Difference Between Firewalls and Modems

Hello Everyone! Carmine Corridore of Underdog Computer and Network Support. Back with another Video Blog!

We will be discussing Firewalls, Routers and Modems, Let’s get started!

Ok so these days there is a big blur between Routers, Modems and Firewalls. Understandably so, Many ISP(Internet Service Providers) provide a modem with both router and firewall capabilities to make things easier for the end user. However, easier doesn’t mean safer. Let me explain.

In the early days of the Internet, the Modem was the interface or the handoff from your internet provider. It carried the signal from the provider and that was it. What you did with it from there was your responsibility.

The next device after the modem was the Router. Its job was to take the signal from the ISP in this case the modem and “ROUTE” the traffic to the local network translating to whatever language the local network could speak. Sometimes it would “Route” to multiple networks. It would then use rules setup to determine where and how the traffic is sent and received.

Ok so think of it this way, the road you live on is the internet. The driveway is your router. Your house then becomes the local network. Back in those days, your house would not have any doors or windows in other words no privacy. Therefore, everyone was able to see you and as a result, nothing was secure.

Firewall were created to provide a level of security similar to how industrial building firewalls prevent the spread of fire or damage to a building. A firewall added not only windows and doors but also curtains to your proverbial home. The role of the firewall has evolved but for the purpose of this video let just say firewalls at the basic level provide a masquerade of your network or NAT (network Address Translation). In using my original analogy. From the outside, all someone knows is your home address but it does not know which person inside the house is actually communicating. In addition, there are access rules for traffic inside going out and outside coming in. Most firewalls have restrictive ruleset coming in then they do going out.

Today the modern modem you get for your home or small business combines the modem, router and the most basic firewall component NAT. When ISP first started doing this, businesses were advised by their IT provider to purchase firewalls because it was understood they needed more than just masquerading how data was sent. Over the last few years I have seen a shift in this trend and many small business usually ones without a dedicated IT team will use what the ISP provided modem. It worries me because they are under a false sense of being secure.

For one I would never consider ISP modem a business class device. This device used for both residential users and commercial accounts and provides a simplicity level of setup that the nonprofessional can use. Because of this, many controls are hidden or not available to the end user. Many security risks like UPNP and WPS among them are open by default. The ability to remote operate your modem is open and EVERYONE KNOWS many times the default username and password for your modem!  In short, it is easy to compromise it.

Business Grade Firewalls have levels of controls you can granularly control what comes in and goes out of your network added services such as intrusion detection and prevention, application control and even antivirus are growing as key service of these devices.

Yes, it is true most modern computers come with software firewalls, the problem I have with them is simple. The software firewall is dependent on your computer operating in an uncompromised state. Meaning it has all the proper patches. You are free of malware and your system is running normally. We have all seen where a patch screws up a computer. Good time to compromise your firewall. You download a malware, good time to compromise your firewall.

With a hardware firewall, this is a bit harder to accomplish. Underdog Computer and Network Support provides quality services, patch management and business class firewalls to all our clients. Give me a call today 570-634-5350. Don’t forget to ask about our Network Assessment valued at $950.00 but is yours free. Remember Never Fear, We Fix I.T. Here!

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