Securing Your Business with a Next-Generation Firewall
Firewalls have been providing networks a first line of cyber defense since the late 1980s. In the vein of all technological progress, they have evolved in response to diversified malware, application vulnerabilities, compliance obligations, risks associated with data breaches and loss, and an increasing desire for optimized network performance. Today's "next generation firewalls" are sophisticated network security systems often referred to as Unified Threat Management (UTM).
At a rudimentary level, firewalls are systems that prevent unauthorized access to or from a private computer network. Often likened to the postal service, a traditional firewall just looks at the address on the envelope and uses simple rules to decide what's permitted and where it goes. A next-gen firewall implementation can look inside the envelope to check if it also contains dangerous content. As part of UTM, these firewalls:
- Identify malicious behavior - providing visibility into risky users and behavior, unwanted applications, suspicious payloads and persistent threats
- Ensure network and endpoint correlation - for unified detection, identification, and response to evasive or suspicious activity and threats
- Use dynamic application control techniques - that correctly identify and manage unknown applications, sets policies, and hardens defenses dynamically
- Integrate a full suite of threat protection - with unified policies that protect across the entire attack continuum, while easing administrative complexity
Building off this traditional functionality, UTMs protect against known and new dangers, provide comprehensive network visibility, and threat / traffic reporting. UTMs generally incorporate: a firewall, virtual private network (VPN), anti-virus and intrusion detection / prevention, web filtering (to block problematic sites), SPAM blocking, and spyware protection. They also provide a more centralized approach to security management, reduce the costs associated with multi-system installation and maintenance, and provide deep visibility and superior protection.
Tip: Can your business afford to go unprotected? Read more about the rising cost of data breaches, to find out.
Image courtesy of Microsoft.
Firewalls often fall prey to a "set it and forget it" mentality. Many users believe that once a firewall is installed, their network will be protected indefinitely. Not only is this untrue, mismanaged or misconfigured firewalls threaten both the network and end-user.
As per Sophos' next-gen firewall report:
- 45% of network traffic is going unidentified
- Organizations are dealing with an average of 10-20 infections per month
- It takes roughly 3.3 hours to identify, isolate, and remediate an infected computer
Without consistent monitoring, a firewall's effectiveness varies considerably, with reported detection rates ranging from 25 to 90% efficiency. Mismanaged firewalls can also lead to:
- outdated firewall rules, which allow unauthorized access and an entry way for cybercriminals
- outdated security and threat definitions, and firm / software updates
- features that are disabled or improperly configured, creating gaps in protection
- improper firewall rule changes that can break business applications
- non-compliance with government and industry regulations
Building a Better Firewall
The value of firewall defense can't be overstated. Coupled with a unified approach to threat management, firewalls stop threats at the perimeter, protect end-users, and reduce security liabilities and lost time. iCorps' managed network security is built around these considerations, featuring:
- 24 x 7 firewall monitoring and remediation
- Gateway anti-virus and spyware protection
- Deep packet inspection, and intrusion detection and prevention
- Optional VPN features to support remote users, or securely connect multiple sites
- Proactive defense against internet-based threats, Trojans, worms, and other forms of malware
- Monthly reports with an overview of: firewall policy review; utilization; spyware, SPAM, and blocked sites; summary of attacks
iCorps' experts are also here to provide firm and hardware updates and replacements, while ensuring that firewall rules have been appropriately provisioned, and backups configured. For more information about iCorps' comprehensive firewall management, click here.