What is a firewall and does my business need one?

What is a firewall and does my business need one?

Your business’s data has never been more important – nor has it ever been more valuable.

The data your business collects and stores not only contains critical internal information pertaining to operations and processes, but likely also contains private customer information. Should any of this data be accessed by unauthorized individuals, the ramifications could be serious.

That is where firewalls come in. A firewall is the first line of defense between the data your business owns and those seeking unauthorized access. Firewalls can detect threats, notify the right parties of those threats and even take action to isolate the threat before it can do damage or gain access to private data.

Small businesses are under attack

Not to sound alarmist, but no business should take cyber security for granted. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable, as they are an increasingly popular target for hackers.

But too many small businesses don’t take the threat seriously. An article from CNBC states that only 59% of small businesses are confident that they will be able to resolve a cyber attack quickly. A mere 28% have a plan in place to respond to an attack should one occur.

Unfortunately, hackers are likely aware of this. Small businesses are, after all, the No. 1 target for these cyber criminals, according to CNBC.

This is why your business should strongly consider its options for defending its network with a firewall.

What firewalls protect against

Now, it’s important to know that firewalls protect against specific threats, namely hackers or other individuals who may try to gain access to your network.

Hackers often accomplish this by tricking unsuspecting employees into giving them access. The methods hackers use are called social engineering attacks, which encompasses several different strategies.

Social engineer attacks can take the form of baiting, which could be an ad or form that the hacker will try to lure an employee into taking action on. It could also look like what is known as scareware, an example of which would be a pop-up on a computer that tells the user that their system is infected or corrupted when it in fact is not.

Another example, and perhaps the most common social engineering attack strategy, is email phishing. In these cases, a hacker sends an email to one or more employees looking to convince them that they can be trusted and give them access to information, or click on a link, that then can be used by the hacker to access your network.

What firewalls do not protect against

While firewalls are an excellent protection against users who may look to introduce malware or other viruses into your network, many types of firewalls themselves do not protect against these software threats, although some do. Instead, firewalls seek to stop that individual from gaining access in the first place.

Firewalls do, however, work hand in hand with antivirus software, which can respond to malicious software.

How firewalls work

Preventing unauthorized access is one of the first steps to keeping your network secure and free of malicious software, though.

Firewalls accomplish this in a variety of ways depending on the type of firewall, which can be software or hardware. But most firewalls are either installed on each device that should have access to your business’s network or is a cloud based firewall.

From there, firewalls can work slightly differently.

Packet filtering firewall

A basic firewall, packet filtering firewalls check data packets that have been based on known parameters.

State-full firewall

State-full firewalls examine and evaluate incoming and outgoing data over time, such as IP addresses. Rules defined by network administrators are also taken into consideration when trying to determine access.

Web application firewall

Also known by the abbreviation, WAF, a web application firewall works with servers that host websites or other web-based applications and works to prevent attacks by applying rule sets for HTTP communication.

Next generation firewalls

Next generation firewalls scan data packets from applications and can also prevent malware from being introduced into a network. Traditional firewalls are not able to do this.

Why your business needs a firewall

For business owners, firewalls only make sense for a number of reasons.

First, firewalls make sure that you are in control of who and what has access to your network at any given time. You can block anything from specific IP addresses from gaining access to traffic from within the network going to specific websites.

Firewalls also save money for businesses by preventing cyber attacks by hackers. Even if a hacker does find a way to get beyond a firewall, the software or hardware can identify the threat and isolate the damage that could be done.

Firewalls also save time and money when blocking employee access to unapproved websites, such as social media platforms or websites that offer downloads that could contain malware.

Strengthen network security with a managed firewall

Firewalls provide a strong defense against those who might seek to access your business’s network without your knowledge. But firewalls still require a person familiar with your network to take action when a threat is identified. On top of that, it often requires extra steps to completely remove the threat correctly.

Get an estimate for our services easily by filling out a quick form.

That’s why a managed firewall is the best solution for your business, no matter the size. At Advanced Network Professionals, our firewall management service gives business owners around the clock firewall administration, log monitoring and respect to any event concerning security or even device health.

Our skilled technicians can also scale any firewall to fit your network’s needs. Whether ANP provides the hardware needed to install and manage the firewall or you already have hardware and only need management, our team can provide another strong barrier that will protect your business’s information and your customers’ data from unwanted access.

Managed firewall services is only one aspect of managed IT services offered by ANP. Let us focus on the technology your business runs on, which will in turn allow you to focus on what matters most – actually running your business.

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