Host-Based Firewalls

A host-based firewall monitors traffic going in and out of a single host, such as a server or a workstation. It monitors traffic passing through the NIC and can prevent intrusions into the computer via the NIC. Many operating systems include software-based firewalls used as host-based firewalls.

For example, Microsoft has included a host-based firewall on operating systems since Windows XP. Additionally, many third-party host-based firewalls are available.


The figure above shows a host-based Windows Firewall on Windows 7. Notice that you can configure inbound rules to allow or restrict inbound traffic and outbound rules to allow or restrict outbound traffic. The connection security rules provide additional capabilities, such as configuring an IPsec connection in Tunnel or Transport mode to encrypt the traffic.

Linux systems support iptables and many additions such as ipv6tables, arptables, and so on.

Generically, administrators commonly refer to these as xtables. You can configure rules within different tables that work similar to how rules within an ACL work.

Personal firewalls provide valuable protection for systems against unwanted intrusions. Many organizations use personal firewalls on each system in addition to network firewalls as part of an
overall defense-in-depth strategy.

Host-based firewalls provide protection for individual hosts such as servers or workstations. A host-based firewall provides intrusion protection for the host. Linux systems support xtables for firewall capabilities. Network-based firewalls are often dedicated servers or appliances and provide protection for the network.

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