Outside of computer security, a firewall is simply a wall built to stop (or slow down) the spread of a fire. In terms of computer security, a firewall is a piece of software. This software monitors the network traffic. A firewall has a set of rules which are applied to each packet. The rules decide if a packet can pass, or whether it is discarded. Usually, a firewall is placed between a network that is trusted and one that is less trusted. When a large network needs to be protected, the firewall software often runs on a computer that does nothing else.
Firewalls are generally categorized as network-based or host-based. Network-based firewalls are positioned on the gateway computers of LANs, WANs and intranets. Host-based firewalls are positioned on the network node itself. The host-based firewall may be a daemon or service as a part of the operating system or an agent application such as endpoint security or protection.
Firewalls also vary in type depending on where communication originates, where it is intercepted, and the state of communication being traced.
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