The network firewall acts as the lone security officer and gatekeeper between your companies’ computers and the wild wild west of the Internet. While most Internet providers have a basic firewall incorporated into their device, it is not always adequate for a corporate environment.
Most residential and Internet provider supplied firewalls are NAT firewalls. NAT or Network Address Translation was originally designed to allow multiple computers to share a single address on the Internet and became popular due to the impending threat of running out of Internet addresses in the late 90’s. While it really wasn’t designed to be a true firewall, it worked well because it would only allow inbound traffic that matched something originally requested from the inside network. As with any technology, users both friendly and malicious quickly found ways around the protection that these firewalls provide. Newer devices do have improvements and are fairly secure; enough that for a home environment, they may be adequate. With more people working from home and having connected houses with smart locks and network cameras, I’d probably not trust them in a residential capacity either.
In a business environment, where a company’s data as well as potentially user’s information that the company has an obligation to protect is stored, a Unified Threat Management (UTM) or Next Generation Firewall (NXFW) is preferred. These modern firewalls not only use NAT but also can search internet traffic in both directions looking for virus’, certain types of traffic that is unwanted, and block access to know bad actors on the Internet. They come with subscriptions like an anti-virus product, so they are continually updated regarding new threats. They also can be configured to report problems, keep logs to help trace a breach, and prevent active attacks on a network.
While the cost of a good UTM or Next Gen firewall may seem steep, it’s a fraction of the cost a business may incur if breached by a hacker or caught by a crypto-locker infection. It’s only one of the many layers that need to be in place to properly protect a business network but being that first line of defense, it is one of the most important.
Call Able today to learn more about business grade firewalls and to make sure your business is properly protected!