Firewall: Don’t Leave the Windows Open

Firewall: Don’t Leave the Windows Open

A computer without a firewall is like leaving the doors open, the windows down and the keys in the ignition of your car. You might as well leave a sign that says “steal me!”

Protecting your computer systems from malicious users intent on disrupting your operations or -- even worse -- stealing your private data or intellectual property must be an IT priority. One of the key tools used for computer security is a firewall.  Few companies can afford to operate without one.

Firewalls screen data coming in and out of computer networks, and block unauthorized access.

According to the Internet Storm Center, a typical unprotected PC will come under attack within 20 minutes of being connected to the Internet. Any network or computer connected to the Internet, or any other external network, is potentially at risk for an attack. Depending on the purpose of the attack, there are several ways that an IT system can be compromised. Sometimes, it’s malicious software, or malware, or diverting a portion of your hardware and bandwidth for its own uses. These uses can include hosting pirated software or pornography. Other programs might delete crucial data or bring your network to a halt. Criminals can gain access to your network, then charge purchases to your company credit cards or siphon money from your accounts. Other programs might allow competitors access to your proprietary information or vendor and customer data.

Firewalls have always been on the front line of defense, but methods of cyberattacks have become so complex, changes have been necessary to keep up.

With the development of the cloud-based Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), vulnerabilities are lessened. NGFWs go beyond traditional firewalls by widening the filtering criteria to include intended application, user identity, and source reputation of all incoming traffic. Since they are cloud based, NGFW’s can routinely update, looking for the most currently known malicious applications and hacking techniques used by cyber-criminals.

While NGFW’s are the most up to date in terms of protection, not all of them are created equally. In other words, not all of them offer “next generation” protection.

Here are 5 things to look for:

  1. All the standard features of traditional firewall

Packet filtering, network address translation, and VPN capabilities.

  1. An integrated network intrusion prevention system (IPS) with deep packet scanning

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS is a common security solution, but the systems continue to evolve in order to respond to the changing threats of the modern cyber-world.

For example, changing from a basic Intrusion Detection System to a Signature-based Intrusion Prevention System. Because this incorporates all the pre-emptive detection abilities of the traditional IDS with the ability to tag and prevent potential threats from entering a network or organization.

Like an IDS, a Signature-based IPS monitors and scans traffic flowing into the network for malware and suspicious activity. It is different in its ability to respond to known, and suspicious, malicious signatures..

  1. Web filtering to prevent access to ‘high-risk’ websites

One of the most common ways a computer or network gets infected is a user accidently goes to a “bad” website or “downloads” infected content. With web filtering, a NGFW “follows” a user out on to the web, and prevents access to questionable sources.

With cloud-based web filtering, users can select category-based filtering depending on specific business needs and concerns.

  1. Gateway anti-virus to scan incoming data for malicious content

Gateway Anti-Virus allows businesses to check for viruses at the application level. Checking files and other types of incoming data for potential threats to the system.

  1. Application Control Abilities

Application control, or “application awareness” are an added security feature with the NGFW. So, this helps monitor and block the input, output, and system service calls when they don't meet the configuration of the NGFW.

Using a NGFW is basically a first step toward securing your internet connection from malicious attacks.  A NGFW will provide sufficient protection from internet-based attacks, but it is not able to stop attacks within range of your wireless signal.

In summary, no system is completely secure.  But taking the right precautions, and using relatively low cost cloud-based IT security solutions will help make your business safer.

At EN Computers, we partner with Meraki. Meraki is the first and only true cloud managed solution, managing everything IT. Including but not limited to: APs, Switching, Firewalls, SD-WAN, EMM, Network Optimization, and even Physical Security.

Finally, Meraki uses “single-pane-of-glass” approach, where businesses can manage their entire network from their centralized dashboard. For more information – we can help.