Is your firewall being properly managed?
Whilst “firewall” is now a common term most people know, what it does exactly, and why, is still a mystery to many.
“Yes we’ve got a firewall. It stops hackers, right?”
Ah, well there’s a loaded question…
Yes, a firewall is a critical piece of security hardware for most businesses. If it’s managed properly.
If not, as we’ll see below, even your firewall can turn on you…
But before we get into that, let’s start with the basics.
What is a firewall?
“IP Address” = Like a postal address, but for an internet-connected device.
“Packet” = The “envelope” in which data is wrapped before being transmitted.
As the video states, firewalls are really pieces of software that make decisions about what to let in, and what to block, to and from the public internet.
However, software firewalls tend to be installed on individual devices, often being a feature of antivirus software. They are also important for cyber security, but only protect individual devices.
Hardware firewalls protect your whole business by patrolling the border between your internal network and the internet and monitoring the traffic that flows between them.
What is a managed firewall?
In it’s simplest definition, a managed firewall is:
- being kept patched with the latest software, security and firmware updates.
- being actively monitored and alerts for availability and issues
- only accessed and altered by IT professionals competent in firewall programming.
- having all rules and policies logged, monitored and regularly reviewed.
If you are relying on the firewall that came built-in with your router from your internet service provider, or you bought your own firewall and have just left it to do its thing, the likelihood is your firewall is not being actively managed.
Let’s take a look at what kind of issues unmanaged or mismanaged firewalls can cause.
What problems can unmanaged or mismanaged firewalls cause?
Put bluntly, a mismanaged or misconfigured firewall can kill your business!
Because your firewall is essentially the door between your private network and the outside world, if hackers can get past, or gain access to, your firewall, they essentially get the keys to your kingdom!
Breaches of your firewall can be caused by:
- Exploitation of known vulnerabilities. Updates will usually be released quickly to patch known problems, which is why patching is so important to security.
- Misconfiguration. Your firewall will need to be programmed to allow certain traffic and block others. Poor firewall programming can let the wrong type of traffic in, leaving your business vulnerable.
Set your firewall up incorrectly or leaving it unpatched is akin to leaving your door unlocked, or even wide open!
And according to Gartnter, 95% of firewall breaches are down to misconfiguration.
Downtime or performance issues.
Your firewall is central to deciding what traffic is allowed in and out of your network and where it is allowed to move.
As a result, a single badly written firewall rule can cause chaos across your network. With proper firewall management all changes should be documented and applied only by authorised personnel, making any mistakes that do occur much easier to roll back. But without the right kind of help on hand, errant firewall rules can be extremely difficult to uncover.
Do I need any added redundency?
Monitoring & High Availability Set Ups.
Even with a professionally fully managed firewall, things could potentially go wrong, hardware could fail or a number of other things could happen that could not be predicted.
This is where High Availability (or HA) setups come in. By pairing firewalls in a High Availability configuration, we can ensure that if one piece of hardware fails that the other will automatically pick up the load. Not only this, but we will be notified of the failure and we can act to get the first piece of hardware back up and running as quickly as possible. We can do all of this without effecting your business downtime.
We know that any type of business downtime can cost your business money, we can work with your business to understand your needs and reduce potential downtime to the least possible.
However, High Availability is not just unique to Firewalls. We can set up High Availability Server configurations, Wireless Links, Data Storage and many more.
We can help:
As network configuration experts we can help ensure your network is correctly configured and protected.
I now understand…
- What a firewall is and its role in securing my business.
- Why firewall management is important.
- What can go wrong if firewalls aren’t properly managed.
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