Every website needs protection. Just like your personal computer, online servers can be targeted for attack. You need a way to keep out hackers or other sources of illegitimate traffic. That’s where firewalls come in.
What is a firewall, in short? It’s a barrier between a computer and the “outside world”.
Malicious actors can wreak havoc on your server if you leave your website unprotected and that’s why you should do everything you can to secure your WordPress site. Setting up a firewall should be one of your first orders of business.
But there are many different types of firewalls and you might not know where to begin.
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What Is a Firewall? What Does a Firewall Do?
Whenever you visit a website, you’re basically connecting to another computer: the web server. But because a server is just a specialized kind of computer, it’s susceptible to the same kind of attacks your own PC is.
It’s not safe to connect so directly to another device without any kind of protection in between. Once that connection is established, it’s much easier to infect the other party with malware or launch a DDoS attack.
That’s what a firewall is for. It’s the intermediary between you and any other devices trying to connect to you or, in a web server’s case, between it and the hundreds or thousands of connections it makes with others every day.
So how exactly does a firewall work?
Firewalls simply monitor incoming and outgoing traffic on a device, scanning for any signs of malicious activity. Should it detect something suspicious, it will instantly block it from reaching its destination.
To protect yourself and your website, you need a high-quality firewall that will keep intruders out.
As far as personal firewalls go, it’s not usually necessary to go out of your way to get one. Windows’ built-in firewall works very well with no configuration at all. And between the application firewall that often comes with your antivirus software, and the packet filter on your router, your computer is usually more than protected.
Just make sure your firewall is activated, you have a good antivirus installed, and your router is configured properly. The same thing can be said for macOS users.
But what if you have a website that needs protection?
It’s a lot different then. There’s not as many built-in tools to protect you, and often it’s up to you to secure your website. For instance, if you’re running WordPress, there’s no firewall or anything to protect your server and security plugins are one of the most common options.
WordPress developers do their best to keep the code optimized, but when vulnerabilities do arise, you have nothing to prevent intrusions.
Every site can benefit from a WAF. Online services like Sucuri, Wordfence, Cloudflare can get one set up on your server in minutes.