Skip to main content

Take 2 Minutes: What’s a Firewall?

By Joshua Cameron

Published September 8, 2021 • 2 Min Read

Movies often show hackers fighting their way through firewalls, but how real is that? And what does that mean? Do firewalls really help stop cyber crime? Take two minutes and get caught up.

What’s a firewall?

On a computer network, a firewall is a system that uses a set of rules to either allow or deny access to your devices. Think of it like a strict bouncer at a nightclub. Forgot your ID? You can’t come in. No shirt, no security credentials? No entry.

What does a firewall really do?

A firewall acts as a filter that allows only some things into your home network — like your trusted devices — and bars any untrusted outside access. It can help block unauthorized users or programs from accessing your devices and allow the ones you do want. Firewalls enforce the rules you set to determine what comes through.

Firewalls are included in all main operating systems, including Mac OS, Windows and Linux. These devices and services have default security settings, but you can set them to allow more or less access.

Why you might use a firewall?

  • You work from home or do business from your personal computer. A firewall will act as a filter, blocking unsolicited calls to your device — kind of like hiding you from curious cyber criminals looking for a target.

  • You have sensitive personal information on your devices. In most cases Firewalls help limit who can talk to your devices without being invited first. They make it harder to take advantage of your device by limiting what outsiders can see over the internet.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

Share This Article


Cyber Security Cyber Tips