A firewall will defend your business by proactively blocking unauthorized access to your business’s network. Most companies realize hackers, malware and viruses are a great threat to the security of their company, but will simply rely on antivirus software. Such software is important and will quarantine and recognize infections, but as the saying goes, and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Managing your network security should be a top priority for businesses of all sizes, and firewalls are a great first step.
What is a Firewall?
Firewalls function by protecting your computer from hackers, malware, and viruses by monitoring data entering your network or computer to ensure nothing unintended or harmful slips through.
Being a key feature of most credible security software, basic computer firewalls are built in the security settings of most computer operating systems like Microsoft Windows.
Having a firewall, however, does not mean the configurations are appropriately done. A basic default firewall is often not enough to counter sophisticated attacks.
Besides blocking legitimate activity, poorly managed firewalls can cause difficulty to end-users and lead to workflow errors or the user disabling a firewall out of frustration.
Companies should seek knowledge on how to configure firewalls properly, understand how to respond in case alerts come up, know when to let data through, and know when it’s safe to override the firewall’s protections.
While all these are beyond the capabilities of many users, trusted IT partners can remotely manage firewalls for the business, ensuring they are secure.
How Do Firewalls Work?
Firewalls prevent malicious software and unauthorized connections from accessing your network by examining the data that is being sent to your network and determining if it is legitimate based on predefined conditions.
They monitor outgoing and incoming network traffic, and if they detect unauthorized access in your system, they decide whether to allow or block based on the instructions given.
Firewalls are essential for businesses, especially with remote working employees since they have to securely connect to the company’s network connection from potentially unsecured locations.
Types of Firewalls
Firewalls can either be hardware or software based. Most small businesses go for software firewalls out of ease. This type of firewall is installed directly on computers and only protects the machine it’s on.
Most operating systems have built-in software firewalls that offer basic protections to the users. There are advanced software firewalls that are customized to protect against ransomware, malware, and viruses.
On the other hand, hardware firewalls are router or stand-alone systems which act as a barrier, or firewall, between the internal network of a business and the internet. Hardware firewalls are more robust and can protect many devices on a network without the installation of any software on individual devices.
Which One Is Right For You?
One main problem with hardware firewalls is that they do not protect employees who work away from the protected network.
For example, if employees are working at home, hotels, or airports, they will not be protected by the firewall installed in the office.
These employees will need to have firewall software installed on each of their devices. Many small businesses choose to utilize both hardware and software firewalls to ensure complete coverage. Each device may have a software firewall installed on the individual devices while also setting up a more advanced hardware firewall to protect their whole network. By doing that, all devices will be protected despite the location.
Software and conventional firewalls require updates to function properly. Also, the firewalls have to be configured in the right manner for them to protect your business against all potential threats. These two make it difficult for companies to manage firewalls since they have a limited budget and limited time.
Most network protection plans use firewalls to protect businesses against DDoS attacks, malware, botnet attacks, network intrusion, and data leaks.
Benefits Of Having A Firewall In Your Business
Blocks Unauthorized Access
Having a business brought down by cyber-attack can be devastating for most small to mid-sized businesses. Any unauthorized access to the system files could lead to leakage of private client information, loss of vital data and could compromise more security features.
The consequences that come along with breach of security are unbearable for most small businesses. 60% of businesses that suffer a cyberattack go out of business within 6 months.
Any business that has a managed firewall is better protected against these problems. If an unauthorized user tries to access your network remotely, a firewall can give an alert on the attempt of breach of security while blocking access.
By doing this, your business will be made aware of the attempt and have time to respond before the issue becomes more severe and potentially devastating.
Prevents Access to Problematic Content
Some firewalls don’t just focus on traffic coming into your network. They can also prevent unauthorized access to dangerous or distracting websites
Companies will often choose to block access to sites like Facebook or other unnecessary sites during office hours since they feel it reduces distractions, which will affect the productivity of the work.
But it’s not simply about preventing wasted time. Firewalls can also prevent access to malicious sites that are known to install malware and viruses on the computers of those who visit them.
Such protections help prevent employees from being victims of a phishing scam. A phishing attack often employs an official looking email to get an unsuspecting employee to click on links that direct them to a website that harbors these destructive programs.
Managed firewalls will help your company ensure access to legitimate websites and prevent access to ones that can do you harm.
Protects Against Viruses
While firewalls themselves don’t act as antivirus software, they do help prevent the installation of viruses by ensuring only authorize data flows through your network.
By detecting and blocking any network threats, your firewall acts as a first line of defense in the protection against viruses. To ensure complete coverage, companies will want to deploy both firewalls and antivirus software.
Business owners should always ensure their firewall is kept updated with the most recent threat profiles.
Firewalls Are Your First Defense Line.
Despite firewalls providing security to your business, they are fallible.
An end-user might override the firewall settings leaving the system open to attacks. This happens when some employees fall victim to scammers or fail to understand the importance of firewalls.
To protect against such failure, you should educate your team on the importance of firewalls. In addition, don’t simply rely on software firewalls that are easily deactivated. Hardware firewalls setup and managed by dedicated IT professionals mitigate this issue.
Businesses should always note that one of the best ways of protecting information is by limiting access to it.
Storing your most secure files only where necessary. If a file is stored in many areas, it is more vulnerable. Access of such files should be limited to those who need them, and they should have strong passwords in addition to being encrypted.
Firewalls Do More Than Securing Your Business.
Good firewalls do not simply block traffic; they do more than that. You can use a firewall to check for details about the traffic on your network. Checking the traffic helps with troubleshooting network issues and regulatory compliance issues. Firewalls also help in enforcing business policies on internet usage by filtering unprotected to unsavory content.
Always Keep Your Firewall Updated
Up-to-date firewalls work best. Security threats are constantly evolving, and a firewall isn’t something you just set and forget.
If you fail to maintain and update your firewall, you leave your business exposed to the latest threats. Like all antivirus software, the firewall needs regular updates to detect the newest threats identified by the manufacturer. Outdated security systems are a common cause of network breaches and one attackers specifically hunt for.
Firewalls are a necessary component of any network’s security setup and no businesses should be without them. While firewalls may sound complex, they are easily implemented by competent IT professionals. If your company doesn’t have internal IT operations, then you can outsource these tasks to a managed service provider like Fastech Solutions. Managed service providers act as your IT department and can implement the necessary firewall defense to keep your company secure.