Packet Filtering

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What Does Packet Filtering Mean?

Packet filtering is a firewall technique used to control network access by monitoring outgoing and incoming packets and allowing them to pass or halt based on the source and destination Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, protocols and ports.

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Network layer firewalls define packet filtering rule sets, which provide highly efficient security mechanisms.

Packet filtering is also known as static filtering.

Techopedia Explains Packet Filtering

During network communication, a node transmits a packet that is filtered and matched with predefined rules and policies. Once matched, a packet is either accepted or denied.

Packet filtering checks source and destination IP addresses. If both IP addresses match, the packet is considered secure and verified. Because the sender may use different applications and programs, packet filtering also checks source and destination protocols, such as User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). Packet filters also verify source and destination port addresses.

Some packet filters are not intelligent and unable to memorize used packets. However, other packet filters can memorize previously used packet items, such as source and destination IP addresses.

Packet filtering is usually an effective defense against attacks from computers outside a local area network (LAN). As most routing devices have integrated filtering capabilities, packet filtering is considered a standard and cost-effective means of security.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.