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The term firewall has seen limited use since the late 1980s to describe a device to block unwanted network traffic while allowing other traffic to pass The first published description of a modern firewall including use of that name was in Practical Unix Security written in 1990 and published in 1991 The first description of a firewall although not by that name was also in 1990 in a paper by Bill Cheswick A few of the industry pioneers tried to track down the origin of the word as described in this context They found several references from the mid-80s that used the word to describe a damage-limiting device The earliest use they found that seems to correspond to a security device was by Steve Bellovin in some email to Phil Karn in 1987 But the context suggests that Phil knew what Steve meant yet Steve doesnt think he invented it What is a network firewall A firewall is a system or group of systems that enforces an access control policy between two networks The actual means by which this is accomplished varies widely but in principle the firewall can be thought of as a pair of mechanisms one that exists to block traffic and the other that exists to permit traffic Some firewalls place a greater emphasis on blocking traffic while others emphasize permitting traffic Probably the most important thing to recognize about a firewall is that it implements an access control policy The Internet like any other society is plagued with the kind of jerks who enjoy the electronic equivalent of writing on other peoples walls with spray paint tearing their mailboxes off or just sitting in the street blowing their car horns Some people try to get real work done over the Internet and others have sensitive or proprietary data they must protect Usually a firewalls purpose is to keep the jerks out of ones network while still letting one get his or
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