What is a Firewall?
Firewalls provide protection against outside attackers by guarding your network from malicious or unnecessary Internet traffic. Firewalls can be configured to block data from certain locations while allowing the relevant and necessary data through. They are especially important for users who rely on continually accessible connections.
Firewalls, whether hardware of software (or a combination of the two), provide a security boost to any environment. For businesses, firewalls are such an important part of having a reliable computing environment and dramatically reduce threats that can lead to costly data loss, breaches, and down time.
Small to Medium Size Business and the Standard Router
Larger companies understand the risks of their large computing environment and with that understanding often employ multiple business-grade firewalls. However, for the small to medium size business, often run from a home office or other unconventional space, the threats are equally hazardous and require more than the basic ISP-provided router (intended for household use only).
These routers are the address of your connection to the internet. An ISP router is the go-between from your business to the internet and only directs the traffic flow. These routers just do not address the vulnerabilities of a business’s information transactions.
These ISP routers do not filter or inspect the traffic, nor do they detect intrusions. Basically, this leaves your business open to web risks at large, which is only multiplied when you are transferring any sensitive data in order to conduct work. The risk is not just the compromise of this data, which means losing clients in the event of a breach, but also opens you up to some hefty fines from any number of compliance commissions.
Firewalls Put You in Control of Your Network
A firewall allows you to control the gateway (your front door) of information and gain awareness to security problems that may be attempting to enter. There are a number of different kinds of attacks that are caught via this gateway, the top three are:
- Network packet sniffers – a hacker intercepts unprotected network information packets and steals the data
- IP spoofing – an outsider tricks your computers into recognizing them as a trusted source, by posing as a familiar IP address
- Password attacks – hackers guess or crack passwords used by employees, allowing them to access the computer and entire network to steal further data
A business-grade firewall allows you to filter the incoming and outgoing traffic for suspicious activity, putting you in control and minimizing your risk of attacks.
What Does a Good Firewall Do for Your Business?
In a nutshell, it protects you from costly threats. With the correct settings and subscription renewals, it offers the following functions:
- Block incoming traffic based on rules – ex. keep employees off of Social Networking sites
- Block websites – ex. eliminate adult website access, which reduces the associated virus risks
- Dedicate internet network resources – ex. prevent a group of workers from accessing the web for any reason
- Firewalls also create logs of users and instances so you can track the events of a particular time period. This kind of log is critical to pin-pointing a breach to contain or fix problems.
Asses Your Security
At the end of the day, your business data needs more than just a router from your ISP. Ask your IT advisor to do a security assessment of your network and find out where your vulnerabilities are so you don’t have to learn the hard way…