Benefits of Using a Firewall for Data Security

When getting into the company’s IT infrastructure, a cybercriminal can get confidential company data. Some data can be sold on the dark web. Other data the criminal can encrypt and require a ransom for their recovery. All this is not so important. The main thing is that no matter what the attacker does, the business will suffer financial and reputational losses. If you are looking for a cybersecurity compliance consulting services provider and are considering a firewall as one of your cybersecurity tools, this article is for you.

What Is a Firewall?

The main purpose of a firewall is to control incoming traffic and prevent unauthorized entry into the company’s network. In terms of implementation, there are two types of firewalls:

  • Hardware firewalls

This is the physical hardware on which the shielding software is installed. To install a hardware firewall in your infrastructure, you need to purchase a solution, connect it to your corporate network, and configure it in accordance with current security policies.

Hardware firewalls have their advantages. For example, all firewall resources will be spent only on the target load – traffic filtering. Other applications will not physically be able to work on the same device, which means that the firewall will not have to share power with anyone.

  • Software firewall

This is a firewall, made in the form of a program. It is installed on the server and passes through itself all traffic that should get inside the corporate network.

What Tasks Does a Firewall Solve

The key task of a firewall is to prevent unauthorized access to the corporate network. To do this, the firewall monitors the parameters of both incoming and outgoing traffic.

For example, packet filters decide whether or not to let IP packets inside the company, after analyzing their parameters. They can evaluate the protocol used (for example, TCP, UDP, etc.), source IP and port, and other parameters.

Often, firewalls analyze the context of the data being sent. For example, incoming traffic from the external network will only be approved by the firewall if it is in response to a request from the internal network. Under any other conditions, it will be blocked.

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Basic Firewall Functions

So, the main task of the firewall is not to let traffic inside the company’s perimeter that should not be there. This protects against a wide range of threats and prevents multiple risks. Let’s analyze the firewall scenarios in more detail. What a firewall can do.

1.Block unauthorized transmission of corporate data.

Suppose an employee accidentally picked up malware. For some time, this virus resides inside your infrastructure and collects valuable information – documents and files. When a virus program tries to send data to an attacker’s server, the firewall blocks the transmission. As a result, corporate information remains intact and does not fall into the hands of a hacker.

2.Protect against fake traffic.

Let’s consider another situation. The company has several branches. Department A exchanges traffic with department B and their IP addresses are known to each other exactly. If suddenly an attacker tries to disguise malicious traffic as legitimate traffic, he will not be able to do it. The firewall will compare the IP addresses and block the fake ones.

3.Prevent DDoS attacks.

How do DDoS attacks happen? Typically, a hacker-controlled network of infected devices spams the company’s servers with requests in an attempt to overburden it. A tool that recognizes such junk requests will generate a rule for detecting malicious traffic and pass it to the firewall, which will block them.

Today, firewalls are rarely used as a primary protection tool. As a rule, firewalls are just one of the cogs in a company’s information security system. In addition to firewalls, companies also use anti-virus solutions, anti-DDoS tools, intrusion detection systems, and other security tools.

What is Next Generation Firewall

The next-generation firewall includes higher levels of security than stateful packet-filtering firewalls. Unlike traditional firewalls, NGFW keeps track of the entire data transaction (including packet headers, content, and sources).

Some of the features that modern firewalls have:

  1. Support for stateful inspection technology is required. Failover mechanisms should ensure switching between cluster members while maintaining established sessions (including in the case of established VPN channels).
  2. IPS. In addition to checks for known attack signatures, an inspection of the validity of the protocol should be performed: compliance with standards, and expected use.
  3. Antivirus and antimalware. Traffic passing through the gateway must be checked for viruses and other types of malware.
  4. Antispam. It is useful to have a spam-blocking feature without additional devices.
  5. Remote access for various devices (Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android).
  6. URL filtering. Particular attention should be paid to the rapid reclassification of resources between categories. For example, if an authorized site was hacked and began to distribute malware, access to it should be promptly blocked.
  7. Application control. Even well-known standard ports, such as TCP/80, and TCP/443 (HTTP, HTTPS), can be used by various applications. And despite the fact that the same port is used, it is necessary to form individual policies for different applications. And even within the application, policies should be granular (for example, allow Facebook, but ban Facebook games).
  8. Data Leak Prevention (DLP). Encrypted traffic inspection (SSL) must be implemented.
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How to Choose a Firewall

When choosing a firewall, first of all, you need to evaluate such characteristics as performance, reliability, and fault tolerance, ease of use (the firewall must have sufficiently powerful and flexible management tools, have the function of centralized management, visualization, and monitoring of the network status), ease of integration into the existing network infrastructure and availability of regulatory approvals. 

Depending on the goals of the organization and the preferences of technical specialists, the value of each criterion may be different. For small and medium businesses, it is first of all important to get an affordable and easy-to-administer solution. For large businesses, the performance of the solution and the reliability of the protection it provides to ensure the continuity of the business, as well as certificates that guarantee compliance with the regulator’s requirements, come to the fore. You can contact UnderDefense for cybersecurity compliance consulting support.

Wrapping It Up

Firewalls are not used as the main security solution, but together with other tools, they increase the overall level of security and help prevent data leakage, information theft, DDoS attacks, and other malicious activities. If you are looking for a reliable provider of cybersecurity compliance consulting services, we recommend that you contact UnderDefense. The company provides high-quality support in preparing the business for compliance with cybersecurity standards.

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