Can firewalls prevent phishing?

  • Firewalls serve as the first line of defence against cyber threats by analysing incoming and outgoing network traffic and filtering out potentially malicious content.
  • Firewalls can impose application-level controls to limit access to high-risk applications frequently targeted by phishing attacks.
  • IPS complement firewalls by providing sophisticated threat detection and prevention capabilities, enabling organisations to proactively identify and block phishing attempts instantly.

Phishing attacks are a type of cybercrime that relies on deception and social engineering to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information, such as passwords, financial data, or personal details, which pose a significant risk to individuals and organisations alike. Firewalls play a crucial role in preventing phishing attacks by intercepting suspicious traffic, regulating access to vulnerable applications, and instantly detecting and blocking phishing attempts.

Anatomy of phishing attacks

Phishing attacks, which are frequently delivered via fake emails, texts, or websites, target human vulnerabilities rather than technological flaws. Attackers create communications that appear to be from reputable sources, tricking people into disclosing important information such as passwords, financial information, or personal data. The intricacy of phishing attempts necessitates strong cybersecurity measures, with firewalls at the forefront of this defence.

Also read: EvilProxy Phishing Campaign Targets Microsoft 365 Users, Focuses on C-Level Executives

Intercepting suspicious activities

Firewalls play a vital role in identifying and blocking suspicious URLs (uniform resource locators) and domains associated with phishing campaigns. It can utilise blacklists and reputation databases to proactively restrict access to known phishing websites, blocking attempts to trick unwary users into disclosing sensitive information.

Firewalls can use heuristics and behavioural analysis techniques to detect patterns suggestive of phishing activity, such as aberrant URL structures or unexpected redirection, and block them instantly.

It may monitor email traffic for phishing attempts and check email attachments and embedded URLs for evidence of malicious intent. Firewalls can protect users against phishing schemes by intercepting emails before they reach their intended recipients, thereby reducing the risk of data breaches and financial losses.

Also read: IBM, Fortinet launch next-gen firewall security for IBM Cloud

Regulating access to vulnerable software

Firewalls can impose application-level controls to limit access to high-risk applications that are frequently targeted by phishing attacks, such as web browsers, email clients, and file-sharing services.

Firewalls can prevent users from accessing potentially harmful websites or downloading suspicious files containing phishing payloads by monitoring application activity and implementing granular access rules.

Firewalls can monitor application traffic for signals of abnormal activity, such as unexpected file downloads or connections with known phishing sites, and block such actions to avoid data exfiltration and malware infestations.

Detecting and blocking phishing attempts instantly

By analysing network traffic for signatures and behavioural anomalies that indicate phishing activity, intrusion prevention systems (IPS) can detect and block malicious traffic before it reaches its intended targets.

IPS can also use machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to detect previously unknown phishing attacks based on their characteristics and behaviour patterns. By constantly adapting and learning from new threats, IPS can stay ahead of cybercriminals and provide proactive protection against developing phishing methods and approaches.

IPS can integrate with threat intelligence feeds and security information and event management (SIEM) systems to correlate phishing-related events with other security incidents and offer a complete picture of the organisation’s security posture. By centralising threat detection and response capabilities, IPS allows organisations to respond quickly and effectively to phishing attacks and minimise the impact of security breaches.


Yun Zhao

Yun Zhao is a junior writer at BTW Media. She graduates from the Zhejiang University of Financial and Economics and majors in English. Send tips to

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