Firewalls have become a standard aspect of internet security. There’s one built into your home WiFi router for instance, and your computer may use one too.

But how did a relatively boring technology get such a cool name? Why is it called a firewall?

A name stolen from the construction industry

Firewalls have existed for many years, long before the Internet became a practical reality – but not in the IT industry. The first firewalls can be found in the construction industry where they are an important safety design feature.

In construction, a firewall is a specially toughened, flame-proof barrier designed to limit or stop the spread of a fire. Typically made of concrete, firewalls are built into larger structures like terraced houses or office blocks and can withstand temperatures in excess of 400ºC.

Should a section of the building catch fire, the firewall will slow or stop the spread. This helps to minimise damage to the rest of the building and provides additional time for people to escape to safety.

Computer firewalls are very similar

Computer firewalls are designed to do a very similar job, installed between two networks, like your house and the rest of the internet. The firewall acts like a barrier, preventing hackers and malicious web traffic from spreading into your home network.

It is increasingly common to see firewalls installed on computers themselves too – Panda Dome has a built-in personal firewall for instance. If a hacker does break into your home network, the firewall prevents the ‘fire’ (malicious activity) spreading.

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Cleverer than concrete

A construction firewall is just a dumb slab of concrete that can withstand heat and flame. A computer firewall is much cleverer, monitoring traffic going in and out of your network. Every single piece of information passing through the firewall is checked to ensure it is ‘safe’.

In a fraction of a second your firewall will identify and block suspicious activity, keeping cybercriminals away from your computer. At the same time, ‘safe’ traffic is permitted in and out of the network as usual.

And just like a concrete firewall, your computer firewall can withstand attacks for hours or longer.

An essential aspect of your personal security

The firewall built into your home WiFi router already offers some degree of protection for your home network. But what happens when you’re out of the house?

Installing a firewall on your laptop offers the same protections when you are travelling too. The Panda Dome firewall goes wherever you do, blocking malicious traffic and hackers when you connect to public WiFi or any other untrusted network.

Without firewall protection, your computer is in constant danger of being successfully compromised. Anti-malware tools may deal with viruses, trojans and worms, but a firewall offers protection against active hacking techniques.

To learn more about Panda Dome, and to try the personal firewall features for yourself, please download a free trial today.