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College Essay Example on Firewalls and VPNs

A firewall is a combination of programs integrated into a gateway server to protect a private network from interference by users from public or external networks. Firewalls work simultaneously with Virtual Private Networks. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technological platform that facilitates the creation of a secure network through which one can access public networks like the internet.

Internet security systems use a combination of firewalls and VPNs to ensure network safety for internet connections. There are two configurations used. In the first option, the firewall comes behind the VPN server. In this case, there is a direct attachment of the VPN server to the Internet. The firewall forms a link between the intranet and the VPN server. In the second option, the firewall comes before the VPN server. It has a direct connection to the Internet while the VPN server links the intranet to the firewall. This is the most common option for internet security systems.

Firewalls operate through the use of Internet Protocol packet filters which determine what material to let into the system and what not to. These filters provide a way through which one can make a precise definition of what network traffic can enter the system. A firewall basically contains two network cards. One card links the system to the internet or the wide area network (WAN) while the second links it to the local area network (LAN). The firewall can be configured to allow movement of specific contents across the cards. Firewalls are also useful for checking the correlation between traffic that is moving across it to determine whether it is relevant to other network traffic.

VPNs enable network administrators to set up virtual networks comprised of a several individual networks that may be operated remotely. This creates a perception that the system has a connection to a local network even though it may be working through remote operation. It is possible to configure a VPN to enable users bypass firewall restrictions.

Firewalls view VPNs as separate networks within the system. In the general sense, firewalls block the flow of traffic between the VPNs and the local network. The fact that it is possible to configure a VPN to enable users to bypass firewall restrictions implies that these two measures should be applied together to ensure maximum security within the network.