Network Security Tools: What is the Difference Between Firewalls and Device Blocking?

firewalls vs device blocking - network security tools

As the amount of IoT around us increases it’s becoming harder to avoid the topic of network security. We want to believe the devices we use are safe, that the information we share on them is secure, but if we’re honest with ourselves we know this isn’t the case.

Who can blame us though for burying our head in the sand over network security? If you’re not a dedicated techie then networks are a daunting subject! First of all, there are all the threats that can attack your network: hacking, malware, botnets, ransomware, just to name a few. Then there are all the methods of protection; firewalls, anti-virus, device blocking, VPNs. The number of terms to understand is overwhelming – no wonder most us give up at the first hurdle.

Unfortunately for us, hackers aren’t giving up.

The information on our personal network is becoming increasingly valuable so home network hacking is on the rise. Have no fear though – Fing is here to start you on your journey to understanding network security.

Today’s topic: Fingbox vs Firewalls!

firewalls vs device blocking - Fingbox

A question we are often asked is how does Fingbox compare with smart firewall devices. The first major difference is that Fingbox is not a firewall – it is instead a home network security toolkit that centers around network scanning and device blocking.

Confused? Bear with us and we’ll explain all!

How Do Firewalls Work?

Think of your home network as being like an airport. At departures all the people and luggage passing into the airport are scanned – forbidden, suspicious or potentially harmful items are then prevented from entering the airport.

A firewall acts in a very similar way. As packets of information pass from the Internet into your network the firewall will scan these to look for any potential threats to the system, such as viruses or spyware. Harmful things will then be blocked from entering. This inspection of information is called packet scanning and can be a very effective way to prevent Internet-based threats from entering your network.

firewalls vs device blocking - how do firewalls work

However, every security system has its limitations. Like the hideous airport departures queues during peak season, an increased amount of information passing through the firewall can cause traffic to form in your network. Having several devices connected to your firewall-protected Wi-Fi can cause your connection to become slow, or even crash altogether, due to the increased workload the firewall is trying to process.

A second limitation in firewall protection is that it’s only monitoring one threat entry point to your network – the Internet. It does not protect against the highest rising form of cybercrime; physical network hacking and Wi-Fi eavesdropping.

What is Physical Network Hacking?

Physical network hacking is the cyber equivalent of breaking and entering. To do this a hacker gets within the radius of your Wi-Fi signal and then exploits a weakness that allows them to connect their device to your network. This weakness could be a poor router password, an open port or an unsecured device – once they are in they are able access all the information on your network.

As this form of hacking does not involve entering the network via the Internet it goes undetected by firewalls. Due to it not involving the use of any form of malware to access your network the hacker will also not be picked up by anti-virus software. They are just ‘logging on’ to your Wi-Fi like any other device in your home so they will appear, and be treated by your network, like just another device.

Due to this a hacker could enter your network, steal your data and leave without you even noticing. And with the increasing number of unsecured IoT devices in our home, this type of cybercrime is rapidly on the rise.

How Do You Prevent Physical Network Hacking?

There is only one way to prevent an unwanted physical intruder on your network, and that is device blocking.

Going back to our airport analogy, if a firewall is the departures’ security then a device blocker is the fencing and surveillance surrounding the entire airport that alerts the security staff of any harmful persons or activities.

This is where devices like Fingbox come in! In a similar way to a surveillance system, Fingbox watches over your network and alerts you when a new device has accessed it. It then gives you the opportunity to block that potential hacker from having access to your network. You can do this on a temporary basis whilst you figure out if the device is actually one of your own, or you can do it permanently so the device can never physically access to your network again. Fingbox also allows you to name and store your IoT on your network so you can easily identify an unrecognised device.

firewalls vs device blocking - network security against hackers

*For you real IT experts out there wondering how this blocking feature works; Fingbox leverages low level (data-link layer) network programming and packet injections to make sure the device is unable to reach not only the Internet but also other local network devices.*

The Benefits of Fingbox Over Firewalls

In opposition to firewalls, Fingbox provides network security features in a more physical sense. As well as intruder alerts and device blocking, Fingbox also sends you alerts on the status of your devices, gives you visibility on the Wi-Fi enabled devices near your home and checks the ports of your devices for risks of being hacked.

Unlike firewalls, Fingbox also does not re-route all your network traffic through it for packet scanning, and so it will not lead to the data queues that slow down your connection. Fingbox actually comes with many Wi-Fi troubleshooting features that help you achieve better network performance, such as Bandwidth Hog Identification, Wi-Fi Sweet Spot Finder and Speed Checks.

The final major difference between Fingbox and a smart firewall device is the cost. The majority of smart firewall devices have an expensive purchase price and then ongoing subscription fees. Fingbox’s network security tools though are available at the affordable one-off cost of $79.

Firewalls vs Device Blocking: The Verdict

Whilst we could talk about the benefits of our little network security and Wi-Fi troubleshooting toolkit all day, we would actually always recommend having several lines of defence when it comes to network security. Hackers can enter your network through both virtual and physical means so it is important to defend yourselves on both of these fronts.

However, with cybercrime on the rise, and Wi-Fi eavesdropping a rapidly growing method of stealing data, homeowners can no longer afford to ignore the vulnerabilities of their network to physical hacking.

Knowing who and what is on your network is the first step to both understanding and securing it.

Block unwanted intruders to your network with our home network security and Wi-Fi troubleshooting toolkit, Fingbox!

How to prevent network hackers - network security toolkit