Choose the Right Firewall as Your First Line of Defense
Although clouds have blurred the network boundary, firewalls remain a first line of defense to protect the corporate network perimeter. What should a business look for when selecting a firewall?
There are three main ways of implementing firewalls.
Software firewalls are only appropriate on lightly used networks. Though they can block known threats, packets are only scanned when they reach the software—after they’ve passed through the switch and router. This can allow some threats access to systems prior to firewall scanning.
Hardware firewalls use a dedicated device that scans all packets coming through thee router. They are able to identify threats before they pass into the network. The drawback is that they require updating. In addition, increasing their capacity can mean deploying a new device. Cloud services allow hardware firewalls to be managed by a vendor’s dedicated security team.
There’s often a conflict between the need for security and the need for performance, and since firewalls examine every incoming packet, they can significantly impact performance as well as security. Before selecting a firewall, evaluate its performance under high normal traffic load, particularly with encrypted traffic. This evaluation should ensure that all firewall services, including logging, anti-malware, and URL filtering, are enabled, to best match the performance expected in the production environment.
Effective Inspection and Analytics
Packet threats often can’t be identified based simply on the packet. Patterns of behavior matter, so firewall analytics are critical to firewall effectiveness. In addition, because most internet content is encrypted these days, the firewall needs the ability to inspect encrypted data.
The more you rely on human effort to configure firewalls and deploy policies, the more likely it is there will be errors or systems will be accidentally omitted from the policy distribution. Automation capability helps ensure completeness, consistency, and correctness of your firewall maintenance tasks. Reviewing logs to identify anomalies is another task that’s greatly improved through the use of automation.
In addition to keeping malicious actors out of your network, a firewall can provide safe network access for remote employees through virtual private networks.
Monitoring and Reporting
While automation and analytics provide huge benefits, it’s important that you remain aware of what your firewall is doing. This requires the firewall to generate meaningful reports that you can use to understanding the threats it has blocked and guide your future security strategy.
Prescient Solutions develops and implements information security solutions for businesses in the Chicago and Schaumburg areas. Our expert team will help you choose the right firewall and other security tools needed to protect your business. Contact us to learn more about what you should look for when choosing a new firewall.