Packet Filtering Firewall
A packet filtering firewall is a network security technique that regulates data flow to and from a network. It is a security mechanism that allows packets to move across networks while controlling their flow through the use of a set of rules, protocols, IP addresses, and ports.
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Before we dig up deep into the realm of Packet Filtering Firewalls, it’s better to understand what the term “Firewall” means.
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What is a firewall?
A firewall is a network security device that monitors and filters incoming and outgoing network traffic in accordance with previously established security policies in an organization. A firewall, at its most basic, is a barrier that sits between a private internal network and the public Internet. The primary function of a firewall is to keep dangerous traffic out while allowing non-threatening traffic in.
Types of Firewalls
Firewalls are classified as either software or hardware firewalls, depending on their structure. Each type of firewall serves a distinct purpose while providing the same functionality. However, having both is recommended for maximum protection.
- A hardware firewall is a physical piece of equipment that connects a computer network to a gateway. Consider a broadband router as an example. An Appliance Firewall is another name for a hardware firewall.
- A software firewall, on the other hand, is a simple program that is installed on a computer and operates via port numbers and other installed software. This type of firewall is also known as a Host Firewall.
Furthermore, there are numerous other types of firewalls based on their features and level of security. Firewall techniques that can be implemented as software or hardware include the following:
- Packet-filtering Firewalls
- Circuit-level Gateways
- Cloud Firewalls
- Unified Threat Management (UTM) Firewalls
We will be discussing the Packet Filtering firewall in detail in this blog.
What is Packet Filtering Firewall?
A packet filtering firewall is a network security feature that regulates the flow of incoming and outgoing network data. Each packet containing user data and control information is examined and tested by the firewall using a set of pre-defined rules. If the packet passes the test, the firewall allows it to proceed to its destination. Those who fail the test are disqualified. Firewalls inspect packets by looking at rule sets, protocols, ports, and destination addresses.
How does Packet Filtering Firewall work?
Packets are structured data units. Because they divide communications into small bits and transport them independently across the network, these networks are fault-tolerant.
In order to display accurate information, packages are reordered after passing through the firewall and arriving at their destination.
Packet switching, when done correctly, increases network channel capacity and decreases transmission delay and communication efficiency. Packets include two essential components:
- Data is directed to the correct location using packet headers. They include internet protocol (IP) elements, addressing, and any other data needed to deliver packets to their destination.
- The user data contained within the packet is referred to as the payload. This is the data that is trying to get somewhere.
Packet filtering firewalls allow or deny network packets based on the following criteria:
- The source IP address is where the packet is being sent from.
- The packet’s address is the destination IP address.
- Protocols: Protocols include data transfer protocols such as session and application protocols (TCP, UDP, ICMP).
- Ports include source and destination ports, as well as ICMP types and codes.
- Flags include TCP header flags such as whether the packet is a connect request.
- The physical interface (NIC) that the packet is passing through (incoming or outgoing).
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What Are the Various Types of Packet Filtering Firewalls?
There are four types of packet filtering:
- Dynamic packet filtering
- Static packet filtering
- Stateless packet filtering
- Stateful packet filtering
Example of Packet Filtering Firewalls
Packet filters examine each TCP/IP packet, looking at the source and destination IP and port addresses. You can create rules that allow only known and established IP addresses while blocking all unknown or unknown IP addresses.
Denying outsiders access to port 80, for example, would prevent all outside access to the HTTP server, because most HTTP servers run on port 80. You can also configure your firewall to allow only packets intended for your mail or web server while rejecting all others.
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Benefits of Packet Filtering Firewalls
There are numerous benefits to using packet filtering firewalls, which include:
One of the prominent advantages of packet filtering firewalls is their efficiency. Routers typically operate at high speeds, accepting and rejecting packets as quickly as possible based on their destinations, source ports, and addresses. As the filter determines the destination and legitimacy of inbound and outbound packets, they are frequently held for only a few milliseconds. The performance overheads of most other firewall techniques are higher than those of packet filtering firewalls.
Another benefit is transparency. While users are aware when a firewall rejects a packet, packet filters typically operate quickly and quietly, obstructing user functionality. Other methods require users to configure firewalls manually for specific clients or servers.
Packet filtering is extremely cost-effective because only one filtering router is required to secure the internal network. Many common hardware and software routing devices include packet filtering. Furthermore, because most website routers now support packet filtering, this is the most cost-effective strategy.
Packet filtering is an appealing option due to its low cost and ease of use. A single screening router can defend an entire network using this security strategy. Because they will not notice packet transfer unless it is rejected, users do not need much information, training, or assistance to use firewalls.
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What are the drawbacks of using a Packet Filtering firewall?
Packet filtering has several advantages, but it also has some disadvantages. Some of the disadvantages of a packet filtering firewall are as follows:
- Less Secure: The primary disadvantage of packet filtering is that it is based on IP address and port number rather than context or application information. As a result, they are regarded as insecure. This is because they will forward any traffic that comes through an authorized IP/port. Because the packet filter does not inspect the entire packet, a malicious command can be inserted into unnoticed headers or the payload itself.
- Lack of Logging Capabilities: If the packet filter lacks logging capabilities, it can pose a problem for a company that must meet compliance and reporting requirements.
- Another significant limitation of packet filtering is that it is fundamentally stateless, which means that it monitors each packet independently, regardless of the established connection or previous packets that have passed through it. As a result, the ability of firewalls to protect against severe threats and attacks is quite limited.
Nobody can deny that the Internet’s rapid rise has brought the world closer together. It has, however, made us vulnerable to a variety of security threats. To protect the confidentiality and integrity of a corporate network’s valuable information from outside attacks, we need a strong mechanism like firewalls.
We hope that this blog helped you resolve your doubts, added a new dimension to your thinking, and guided you to make a better choice. Still, if you have any queries and questions for us, you are most welcome to visit our community page and resolve your doubts. Till then, Happy Learning!