A firewall can either be software-based or hardware-based and is used to help keep a network secure. Its primary objective is to control the incoming and outgoing network traffic by analyzing the data packets and determining whether it should be allowed through or not, based on a predetermined rule set. A network's firewall builds a bridge between an internal network that is assumed to be secure and trusted, and another network, usually an external (inter)network, such as the Internet, that is not assumed to be secure and trusted. Many personal computer operating systems include software-based firewalls to protect against threats from the public Internet. Many routers that pass data between networks contain firewall components and, conversely, many firewalls can perform basic routing functions. The term firewall originally referred to a wall intended to confine a fire or potential fire within a building.
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