As the data that you store on your business’ computers is valuable, it is inherently a desirable target to cybercriminals and scammers alike. This means that it is in your best interest to have comprehensive protections in place to protect this data from their activities. Let’s go over exactly what a firewall is, and how they make up a critical portion of your business’ defenses.
The term “firewall” is actually derived from a safety feature that is built into buildings to help (what else) prevent fire from spreading through a structure unimpeded. In a similar fashion, a firewall in the computing sense keeps threats and other malicious things from coming or going via Internet traffic. Firewalls can be either software solutions, or available as a hardware component. Some also specialize in serving particular functions to attend to a specific need.
True to its name, a firewall effectively serves in a very similar way to its physical namesake. Much like a firewall in the “real world” stops flames from spreading with concrete barriers, computing firewalls use walls of code to isolate your systems from the greater Internet, vetting the data packets before they are exchanged from one side to the other.
One might not consider how a firewall’s form factor influences its operation, but it most certainly does. Let’s look a little deeper to understand how this is, and how it should impact your strategy moving forward.
A hardware-based firewall is a separate device that can connect to your network infrastructure in order to protect it, and as such, many broadband routers include them built natively into the device. These devices are more effective at analyzing (and if need be, stopping) incoming threats, as they rely on preset conditions that all incoming traffic is judged against.
Hardware firewalls are common in both the business environment and on the home front, as the simplicity of implementing it makes it an attractive option, as does its capability to protect multiple devices at once. However, there is a considerable trade-off to consider with a hardware firewall… They only analyze incoming traffic. As a result, internal issues will go unnoticed by a hardware firewall, so you could be assimilated into a botnet (among other issues) without realizing it.
While their function is effectively the same, a software-based firewall reverses the strengths and weaknesses that a hardware firewall presents. Rather than protecting the entire network, a software firewall is installed on a single endpoint and provides it with protection. However, as it monitors both incoming and outgoing traffic, it can stop more threats from passing by.
This approach offers another advantage, in that this individual-workstation deployment allows for individual permissions to be assigned on a per-user basis. Therefore, if one of your users needs more leeway than the rest, this can be accommodated.
If you want to get the most out of your firewall implementation, we strongly suggest that you use both options. This can effectively double your security, without the two solutions interfering with one another. Supplementing this dual-firewall approach with additional security solutions can serve to keep your business as protected as possible.
This includes the built-in firewall featured on the Windows operating system. While it isn’t enough to provide comprehensive protection, combining it with managed services can boost your security considerably.
Citara Systems can assist you with all of this, and more. Reach out to us at (508) 532-0837 to learn more.