Protecting your business using firewalls – Part 2

Protecting your business using firewalls – Part 2

Where does this firewall fit in? Who are they for?

The answer is people like you. Really anywhere and anyone that feels they have the need and usually many who don’t even realize that they do. At the very least, even a simply configured firewall will provide an additional layer of security in the form of virus protection. But, perhaps you also want to stop your staff from browsing facebook. Perhaps you’re just tired of pop up ads and want to block them on websites. You may not even want to block webpages, you might just want to keep tabs on how much time people are spending on non work related tasks. A hardware firewall isn’t just about network security alone, it’s about network control.

Ok, you’ve piqued my interest and now I want to know what else a firewall can do.

Below is a list of some of the things we do with our firewalls that you can expect from any quality firewall.

Content Inspection - a firewall peeks inside the network, not just looking at whom something is supposed to be delivered to, but what is being delivered as well. This allows it to do more than a router or computer firewall by blocking based on content, and also reporting on it.

Content Control - Allowing only what you want on the network to go through the network. This can be as simple as blocking specific sites, to entire categories like porn, dating or even sites on architecture. Or perhaps certain programs, like blocking bittorrent or skype.

Virus Protection - Just another layer of security against viruses. Firewalls will inspect every download going through it for viruses.

Improved Network Performance - Firewalls can improve network performance in a few ways. They can not only block ads and popups they detect going through them which means webpages are leaner and meaner and load faster, but some firewalls are also capable of caching websites and images for frequently used sites so that if several people are using the same site at a time, you won’t need to use your very slow internet connection to get the images, but your very fast local network connection to download it off the firewall.

Bandwidth Control - Limiting certain users or certain programs to maximums so that they don’t take up all of your limited internet resources.

Policy Management - Different users can have different restrictions. Perhaps you have a marketing team that needs facebook and twitter, but it’s off limits to the rest of your staff. Maybe you don’t want to limit management, or maybe you want to prohibit general web browsing on point of sale machines, but in the back office or on personal devices it’s ok.

Constant Updates - Virus protection, spam filtering and intrusion detection are all great, but without updates, you’re only protected from threats of days gone by. Keeping on top of current threats and trends in attacks is an absolute necessity. This is what separates the good firewalls from the bad, and the free firewalls from the paid. Like most things: you get what you pay for.

It’s not a comprehensive list, but it will give you an idea for things to look for when purchasing one.

If you are interested in finding out more about Firewalls, keep an eye out for Part 3 or contact us here.