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Firewall (computing)
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This article is about the network security device. For other uses, see Firewall.
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Interaction A firewall is a part of a computer system or

About Wikipedia network that is designed to block
Community portal unauthorized access while permitting
Recent changes authorized communications. It is a device or
Contact Wikipedia set of devices that is configured to permit or
Donate to Wikipedia deny computer applications based upon a set
Help of rules and other criteria.

Toolbox Firewalls can be implemented in either

hardware or software, or a combination of
Print/export both. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent An illustration of where a firewall would be located in a
unauthorized Internet users from accessing
private networks connected to the Internet,
especially intranets. All messages entering or
leaving the intranet pass through the firewall,
which examines each message and blocks
those that do not meet the specified security
Česky There are several types of firewall techniques:
Dansk 1. Packet filter: Packet filtering inspects
Deutsch each packet passing through the
Eesti network and accepts or rejects it
Ελληνικά based on user-defined rules. Although
Español difficult to configure, it is fairly effective
Esperanto and mostly transparent to its users. It
Euskara is susceptible to IP spoofing.
2. Application gateway: Applies security
Français mechanisms to specific applications,
Galego such as FTP and Telnet servers. This
is very effective, but can impose a
performance degradation.
Hornjoserbsce 3. Circuit-level gateway: Applies security
An example of a user interface for a firewall on Ubuntu
Hrvatski mechanisms when a TCP or UDP (Gufw)
Bahasa Indonesia connection is established. Once the
Italiano connection has been made, packets can flow between the hosts without further checking.
‫עברית‬ 4. Proxy server: Intercepts all messages entering and leaving the network. The proxy server[8/31/2010 11:51:12 AM]

Firewall (computing) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Қазақша effectively hides the true network addresses.

Lëtzebuergesch Contents [hide]
Magyar 1 Function
Македонски 2 History
2.1 First generation: packet filters
Bahasa Melayu 2.2 Second generation: application layer
Nederlands 2.3 Third generation: "stateful" filters
日本語 2.4 Subsequent developments
Norsk (bokmål) 3 Types
Polski 3.1 Network layer and packet filters
Português 3.2 Application-layer
Română 3.3 Proxies
Русский 3.4 Network address translation
Simple English 4 See also
Slovenčina 5 References
Slovenščina 6 External links
Српски / Srpski
Srpskohrvatski /
Function [edit]

Suomi A firewall is a dedicated appliance, or software running on a computer, that inspects network traffic
Svenska passing through it, and denies or permits passage based on a set of rules/criteria.
It is normally placed between a protected network and an unprotected network and acts like a gate to
protect assets to ensure that nothing private goes out and nothing malicious comes in.
Українська A firewall's basic task is to regulate some of the flow of traffic between computer networks of different
trust levels. Typical examples are the Internet, which is a zone with no trust, and an internal network,
Tiếng Việt which is a zone of higher trust. A zone with an intermediate trust level, situated between the Internet
and a trusted internal network, is often referred to as a "perimeter network" or Demilitarized zone
中 (DMZ).
A firewall's function within a network is similar to physical firewalls with fire doors in building
construction. In the former case, it is used to prevent network intrusion to the private network. In the
latter case, it is intended to contain and delay structural fire from spreading to adjacent structures.

History [edit]

The term firewall/fireblock originally meant a wall to confine a fire or potential fire within a building; cf.
firewall (construction). Later uses refer to similar structures, such as the metal sheet separating the
engine compartment of a vehicle or aircraft from the passenger compartment.
The Morris Worm spread itself through multiple vulnerabilities in the machines of the time.
Although it was not malicious in intent, the Morris Worm was the first large scale attack on
Internet security; the online community was neither expecting an attack nor prepared to deal with
one. [1]

First generation: packet filters [edit]

The first paper published on firewall technology was in 1988, when engineers from Digital Equipment
Corporation (DEC) developed filter systems known as packet filter firewalls. This fairly basic
system was the first generation of what became a highly evolved and technical internet security
feature. At AT&T Bell Labs, Bill Cheswick and Steve Bellovin were continuing their research in
packet filtering and developed a working model for their own company based upon their original first
generation architecture.[8/31/2010 11:51:12 AM]

Firewall (computing) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This type of packet filtering pays no attention to whether a packet is part of an existing stream of
traffic (it stores no information on connection "state"). Instead, it filters each packet based only on
information contained in the packet itself (most commonly using a combination of the packet's source
and destination address, its protocol, and, for TCP and UDP traffic, the port number).
TCP and UDP protocols comprise most communication over the Internet, and because TCP and UDP
traffic by convention uses well known ports for particular types of traffic, a "stateless" packet filter can
distinguish between, and thus control, those types of traffic (such as web browsing, remote printing,
email transmission, file transfer), unless the machines on each side of the packet filter are both using
the same non-standard ports.
Packet filtering firewalls work on the first three layers of the OSI reference model, which means all
the work is done between the network and physical layers. When a packet originates from the sender
and filters through a firewall, the device checks for matches to any of the packet filtering rules that
are configured in the firewall and drops or rejects the packet accordingly. When the packet passes
through the firewall, it filters the packet on a protocol/port number basis (GSS). For example, if a rule
in the firewall exists to block telnet access, then the firewall will block the IP protocol for port number

Second generation: application layer [edit]

Main article: Application layer firewall

The key benefit of application layer filtering is that it can "understand" certain applications and
protocols (such as File Transfer Protocol, DNS, or web browsing), and it can detect if an unwanted
protocol is sneaking through on a non-standard port or if a protocol is being abused in any harmful
An application firewall is much more secure and reliable compared to packet filter firewalls because it
works on all seven layers of the OSI reference model, from the application down to the physical
Layer. This is similar to a packet filter firewall but here we can also filter information on the basis of
content. The best example of an application firewall is ISA (Internet Security and Acceleration) server.
An application firewall can filter higher-layer protocols such as FTP, Telnet, DNS, DHCP, HTTP,
TCP, UDP and TFTP (GSS). For example, if an organization wants to block all the information related
to "foo" then content filtering can be enabled on the firewall to block that particular word. Software-
based firewalls are thus much slower than stateful firewalls.

Third generation: "stateful" filters [edit]

Main article: Stateful firewall

From 1989-1990 three colleagues from AT&T Bell Laboratories, Dave Presetto, Janardan Sharma,
and Kshitij Nigam, developed the third generation of firewalls, calling them circuit level firewalls.
Third-generation firewalls, in addition to what first- and second-generation look for, regard placement
of each individual packet within the packet series. This technology is generally referred to as a
stateful packet inspection as it maintains records of all connections passing through the firewall and
is able to determine whether a packet is the start of a new connection, a part of an existing
connection, or is an invalid packet. Though there is still a set of static rules in such a firewall, the
state of a connection can itself be one of the criteria which trigger specific rules.
This type of firewall can actually be exploited by certain Denial-of-service attacks which can fill the
connection tables with illegitimate connections.

Subsequent developments [edit]

In 1992, Bob Braden and Annette DeSchon at the University of Southern California (USC) were
refining the concept of a firewall. The product known as "Visas" was the first system to have a visual[8/31/2010 11:51:12 AM]

Firewall (computing) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

integration interface with colors and icons, which could be easily implemented and accessed on a
computer operating system such as Microsoft's Windows or Apple's MacOS. In 1994 an Israeli
company called Check Point Software Technologies built this into readily available software known as
The existing deep packet inspection functionality of modern firewalls can be shared by Intrusion-
prevention systems (IPS).
Currently, the Middlebox Communication Working Group of the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF) is working on standardizing protocols for managing firewalls and other middleboxes.
Another axis of development is about integrating identity of users into Firewall rules. Many firewalls
provide such features by binding user identities to IP or MAC addresses, which is very approximate
and can be easily turned around. The NuFW firewall provides real identity-based firewalling, by
requesting the user's signature for each connection.

Types [edit]

There are several classifications of firewalls depending on where the communication is taking place,
where the communication is intercepted and the state that is being traced.

Network layer and packet filters [edit]

Network layer firewalls, also called packet filters, operate at a relatively low level of the TCP/IP
protocol stack, not allowing packets to pass through the firewall unless they match the established
rule set. The firewall administrator may define the rules; or default rules may apply. The term "packet
filter" originated in the context of BSD operating systems.
Network layer firewalls generally fall into two sub-categories, stateful and stateless. Stateful firewalls
maintain context about active sessions, and use that "state information" to speed packet processing.
Any existing network connection can be described by several properties, including source and
destination IP address, UDP or TCP ports, and the current stage of the connection's lifetime
(including session initiation, handshaking, data transfer, or completion connection). If a packet does
not match an existing connection, it will be evaluated according to the ruleset for new connections. If
a packet matches an existing connection based on comparison with the firewall's state table, it will
be allowed to pass without further processing.
Stateless firewalls require less memory, and can be faster for simple filters that require less time to
filter than to look up a session. They may also be necessary for filtering stateless network protocols
that have no concept of a session. However, they cannot make more complex decisions based on
what stage communications between hosts have reached.
Modern firewalls can filter traffic based on many packet attributes like source IP address, source port,
destination IP address or port, destination service like WWW or FTP. They can filter based on
protocols, TTL values, netblock of originator, of the source, and many other attributes.
Commonly used packet filters on various versions of Unix are ipf (various), ipfw (FreeBSD/Mac OS
X), pf (OpenBSD, and all other BSDs), iptables/ipchains (Linux).

Application-layer [edit]

Main article: Application layer firewall

Application-layer firewalls work on the application level of the TCP/IP stack (i.e., all browser traffic, or
all telnet or ftp traffic), and may intercept all packets traveling to or from an application. They block
other packets (usually dropping them without acknowledgment to the sender). In principle, application
firewalls can prevent all unwanted outside traffic from reaching protected machines.
On inspecting all packets for improper content, firewalls can restrict or prevent outright the spread of[8/31/2010 11:51:12 AM]

Firewall (computing) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

networked computer worms and trojans. The additional inspection criteria can add extra latency to
the forwarding of packets to their destination.

Proxies [edit]

Main article: Proxy server

A proxy device (running either on dedicated hardware or as software on a general-purpose machine)
may act as a firewall by responding to input packets (connection requests, for example) in the
manner of an application, whilst blocking other packets.
Proxies make tampering with an internal system from the external network more difficult and misuse
of one internal system would not necessarily cause a security breach exploitable from outside the
firewall (as long as the application proxy remains intact and properly configured). Conversely,
intruders may hijack a publicly-reachable system and use it as a proxy for their own purposes; the
proxy then masquerades as that system to other internal machines. While use of internal address
spaces enhances security, crackers may still employ methods such as IP spoofing to attempt to pass
packets to a target network.

Network address translation [edit]

Main article: Network address translation
Firewalls often have network address translation (NAT) functionality, and the hosts protected behind
a firewall commonly have addresses in the "private address range", as defined in RFC 1918 .
Firewalls often have such functionality to hide the true address of protected hosts. Originally, the NAT
function was developed to address the limited number of IPv4 routable addresses that could be used
or assigned to companies or individuals as well as reduce both the amount and therefore cost of
obtaining enough public addresses for every computer in an organization. Hiding the addresses of
protected devices has become an increasingly important defense against network reconnaissance.

See also [edit]

Access control list

Bastion host
Circuit-level gateway
Comparison of firewalls
Computer security
Egress filtering
End-to-end connectivity
Firewall pinhole
Firewalls and Internet Security (book)
Golden Shield Project (aka Great Firewall of China)
List of Linux router or firewall distributions
Mangled packet
network reconnaissance
Personal firewall
Sandbox (computer security)
Screened-subnet firewall
Stateful firewall
Stateful packet inspection
Unified threat management
Virtual firewall[8/31/2010 11:51:12 AM]

Firewall (computing) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

References [edit]

1. ^ RFC 1135 The Helminthiasis of the Internet

External links [edit]

Internet Firewalls: Frequently Asked Questions ,

Wikimedia Commons has media
compiled by Matt Curtin, Marcus Ranum and Paul
related to: Firewall
Evolution of the Firewall Industry - Discusses different architectures and their differences, how
packets are processed, and provides a timeline of the evolution.
A History and Survey of Network Firewalls - provides an overview of firewalls at the various
ISO levels, with references to the original papers where first firewall work was reported.
Software Firewalls: Made of Straw? Part 1 and Software Firewalls: Made of Straw? Part 2 -a
technical view on software firewall design and potential weaknesses

v• d • e Firewall software [show]

v• d • e Malware [show]

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Categories: Computer network security | Firewall software | Packets (information technology) | Data

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