What Are the Different Types of Firewall Appliance?

Jo Dunaway

Firewall appliances come in three types for individual computers, local networks of computers, or large enterprises. The latter need protection for forward servers serving the public on the Internet, employee computers, and backend servers where sensitive data is stored. Some individuals may choose one type, a combination of two, or all three types to build in redundancies of protection for both incoming and outgoing communications.

Many hardware dedicated servers come with embedded operating systems and firewall programs that are easily updated.
Many hardware dedicated servers come with embedded operating systems and firewall programs that are easily updated.

A hardware firewall appliance can be a screening router on individual computer networks or dedicated firewall servers serving multiple enterprise computers, with some allowing compatibility with software firewalls or screening routers for additional redundancies. For a software firewall appliance, there are solutions installable on standalone computers, individual computer networks, or large enterprise firewall layout designs. These all follow basic rule settings for which communications are allowed, some allowing individual settings for which ports are to be open or closed to traffic. For those who need a virtual firewall appliance, one can get the same protections as found in software firewall systems; however, these virtual firewalls protect the individual’s or enterprise’s virtual network usage, as most standard software firewalls cannot.

Hardware appliances can be the routers that screen and filter packets of information on personal computer networks or large enterprise firewall designs. Additionally, for larger enterprises that have both forward and back-end servers as well as employee and remote corporate office networks, often dedicated servers serve as proxy servers that function as firewall sentinels for a business’ entire network. To protect back-end servers, which may contain confidential credit information or health records, there are firewall designs that combine filtering routers between groups of servers as well as the proxy servers. Many hardware dedicated servers come with embedded operating systems and firewall programs that are easily updated, to offer updated protections to all computers on the network.

Software appliances provide individual or network firewall appliance protections to scan and guard against intrusions from within and without. A software-based firewall appliance offers individualized settings of rules for what categories of traffic are allowed to enter or exit the computer or network. Additionally, software appliances offer audit logs that system administrators can monitor to note firewall vulnerabilities and to note if rules need to be changed. There are also software application gateways and circuit-level gateways that offer additional layers of firewall protections to networks.

Virtual software appliances are there to protect individuals, small businesses or large enterprises, and offer this protection for virtual network usage. As more traffic and application usage moves to virtual networks, the risk is that malware and hackers will take advantage of those systems unprotected while working in the virtual cloud. A virtual firewall appliance can deny unauthorized access, encrypt incoming and outgoing traffic, provide levels of authorized usage, and prevent these types of attacks.

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