A firewall is a potent defense against hackers and cybercriminals. Surprisingly, many users already have a powerful firewall available and don't even realize it. Most wireless internet routers contain a built-in, hardware-based firewall, and unless it's been activated, it's lying dormant.
We'll look at what exactly a firewall is; why you'd want to use one; and how to find, enable, and configure your wireless router's built-in firewall.
The information in this article applies to most newer wireless router models.
What Is a Firewall?
A firewall is the digital equivalent of a traffic cop that polices your network boundaries. It can be used to prevent traffic from entering and/or leaving your network.
There are several different types of firewalls, both hardware and software-based. Operating systems often feature a software-based firewall, while the firewall in your router is hardware-based.
Firewalls help prevent internet-borne, port-based attacks. Firewalls can also stop an infected computer inside your network from attacking other computers by preventing malicious traffic from leaving your network.Tetra Images/Getty Images
All routers offer basic firewall protection, but many have more sophisticated firewall functionality.
Windows has had a built-in software-based firewall since Windows XP, while Mac OS X and later has a firewall that must be enabled.
Check if Your Router Has a Built-In Firewall
To make sure your router has a built-in firewall, open a browser window and log into your router's administrative console by typing in the router's IP address. Your router is likely to have what is known as a non-routable internal IP address, such as 192.168.1.1 or 10.0.0.1.
Below are some of the standard admin interface addresses used by some of the more common wireless router manufacturers. Consult your specific router's manual for the correct address.Linksys: 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1DLink: 192.168.0.1 or 10.0.0.1Apple: 10.0.1.1ASUS: 192.168.1.1Buffalo: 192.168.11.1Netgear: 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.0.227
After you log in to your router's administrative console, look for a configuration page labeled Security or Firewall. This indicates that your router has a built-in firewall as one of its features.
Enable and Configure Your Router's Built-In Firewall
Access your router's configuration page.
Locate an entry labeled Firewall, SPI Firewall, or something similar.
Select Save, and then Apply.
After you select Apply, your router will likely state that it is going to reboot in order to apply the settings.
Configure your firewall by adding firewall rules and access control lists that meet your connectivity and security needs.
When you have completed setting up your firewall the way you want it, test your firewall to ensure that it is doing what you're expecting it to.