Computer security is a major issue facing the technological world today. When all of our data and personal information is now so centrally located and accessible to us on near any device we would like to use, an issue arises in where we have to know we are keeping that data protected. These days, that isn't incredibly hard anymore with the vast repertoire of cyber security and virus defense suites available online both for cost and for free. In a world of security, the more you can install, the better, right? Not quite. Welcome back to #TechTuesday, where we're going to explain what happens when you use too many firewalls.

A Ten Foot Wall

In many applications of security in our wall, whether it is home defense, personal defense, or even just recreational activity, we often attribute safety to increased levels of protection. When you ride a motorcycle, a helmet is the minimum amount of safety you can have to protect you. There are holes in that, sure, but it is safer! But then, we can add gloves, an armored jacket, and reinforced jeans. Now with all these additional features, we are clearly substantially more protected than we would be, right? Right. While the protection is not infallible, it is still an advanced amount. If you are a soldier in the field, a suit of body armor is going to dramatically increase your protection. But putting on additional suits of body armor might not be practical, and will serve to slow you down, and make you cumbersome or inoperable.

In the world of Virus Protection, we can draw a very strong parallel toward both of these situations. For example, the soldier scenario here can draw a parallel with installing multiple security suites for the purpose of protecting your computer. Sure, not every suite will catch every virus right away, so installing multiple seems logical, right? A safety net for the other one, in case they do not catch something? Well, not really, no. You see, these suites are all designed to fulfill multiple roles, which can include Real Time Scanning, Virus Protection, Firewalls, Mail Scanning, Spam Filtering, etc. With multiple suites running at once, it is like wearing additional layers of body armor. You might seem more protected at the face, but in reality you are slowing yourself down and making yourself more vulnerable. The same will apply to your computer, where the suites will battle for system resources, and cause the machine to behave erratically. Due to conflict in the purpose of the programs, they may do more harm than good, removing files that are falsely identified, or causing the other system to disable certain core functions by force.

Typically, you would want a solution that is more akin to our motorcycle situation. Virus protection is a cumulative situation. Many pieces fit together like building blocks, creating a strong blanket of security as a whole. A firewall, a virus scanner, a mail scanner, a spam filter, a phishing filter, and many other pieces all integrate together to create a complete package of security, which is then constantly updated and cataloging new threats to the environment. Rather than adding additional suites, you can add programs with a singular purpose that is not already fulfilled by your current tool. These tools will then work together cumulatively to protect you, rather than to conflict.

Remember, it is better to be nimble with a bigger stick, than sluggish and overprotected. The latter will ultimately leave you far more vulnerable.