There are many different types of threats a business has to protect itself against through a diversified strategy. The first thing that often comes to mind is the use of anti-virus software. While it definitely is a good start, anti-virus software should only form one part of the defence. In order to protect your data, your clients and your finances, you should implement a firewall for your business.
As you might be able to imagine, firewall form a very important part of a cybersecurity plan. Most personal home networks do not require a firewall, but they are, nevertheless, essential for businesses. In the following, we will cover what firewalls are as well as what they do and how they work.
What Is a Firewall?
Historically, firewalls were specifically built walls in buildings and cars to withstand fire and slow down the spread of damage. Nowadays, firewalls provide a strong layer of protection between occupants and external threats. Our complex world of technology has borrowed this term to describe a protective layer of technology which is meant to defend networks from digital external threats and unauthorised access. Therefore, a firewall can be software or hardware-based and can be configurated to provide conditional or varying access. While a hardware-based firewall is often the best solution for a commercial operator, we will also cover why software-based firewalls might have to play a role.
What Do Firewalls Do?
Firewalls provide a protective layer between your internal networks and data and the open Internet. A firewall can be configured to enforce certain security policies and defend gateways (the rooms where Internet traffic must be received into your network).
Hardware-based firewalls are separate from the computers they are designed to protect, providing the highest level of protection. The level of security a firewall can provide can be very high – you can even choose to close the firewall completely so that no information can get through at all. This might be of little use for closed networks, but it might still be useful to have this option if serious threats are registered. However, firewalls are usually set up to allow certain types of information to pass through while working hard to block malicious data. Firewalls can also hide your internal network addresses, making it more difficult for malicious actors to target them.
Software-based firewalls, on the other hand, can also be used to block employee access to inappropriate websites. This can not only protect against known problematic websites, but it can also prevent wasted time and inappropriate behaviour. One advantage of software-based firewalls over hardware-based firewalls is their ability to monitor outbound traffic coming from the network. If a virus or malware has successfully entered the network, it may attempt to send sensitive data out, or co-opt the computing power of the device to mine cryptocurrency or be part of a DDOS attack on another network. A software-based firewall can block these types of activities and prevent them from reaching the internet while alerting IT to the problem.
How Do Firewalls Work?
Firewalls work by interposing themselves between network devices and the Internet and then monitoring the information that passes through. There are two basic types of firewalls: A hardware-based firewall, which can protect many computers but can only monitor incoming data and a software-based firewall, which only protects the machine on which it is downloaded but can monitor data originating from the inside network. Many small businesses choose a combination of both types for comprehensive protection.
How Can I Complement A Firewall?
Firewalls are an indispensable part of cybersecurity. Nevertheless, they should never be your only defence. The ongoing battle between security experts and hackers does not seem to have an end in sight, which means you should trust that your firewall is impenetrable. Therefore, additional steps should be taken to round out your protective behaviours for your business networks.
– Cyber Security Staff Training
– Established Anti-Virus Software
– Regular Software Updates
All in all, firewalls are very effective and can be tailored to provide bespoke protection for your business. Protecting your networks from unauthorised access can definitely be seen as one of the most powerful and efficient ways to provide cybersecurity. To find out more about how firewalls can support your company’s cybersecurity and how Astec IT can help you with that, contact us here.