A firewall is an essential part of your business’ security system. Without it, your network is open to threats. A firewall keeps destructive and disruptive forces out, and controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on security parameters that you can control and refine.

An introduction to firewalls

firewall

The term “firewall” originally referred to a literal wall that would prevent fire from spreading inside a building, or vehicle, buying extra time for occupants to escape. A software or hardware firewall that you might have on your PC or network, works in the same way. Like the wall, it is designed not to let the “fire” (in this case, cyber threats) through.

With an effective firewall you can prevent unauthorised access to your computers and network. This protects your data from being compromised. It also gives you extra protection against viruses and malware. If a firewall detects anything suspicious or malicious attempting to enter your private network from the internet, it will not allow it through.

At home, you may have a software-based firewall, but your business will need a hardware-based firewall to keep all unwanted traffic out of your network. A business-class firewall will also enable you to control what computers on your network send externally. So, you can determine what kind of emails are being sent out from your network, meaning you can prevent employees from sending confidential or sensitive information.

Control inbound and outbound traffic

An effective firewall will control both inbound and outbound internet traffic. This means you can choose to block access to specific websites within your network as well as blocking malicious content from outside your network. For example, you can protect employees from accessing potentially harmful or unsafe websites that could lead to your network being infected with malware. You can also choose to block inappropriate or non-work-related websites, therefore enhancing the overall productivity of your employees.

Why do I need a firewall?

An effective, managed firewall will significantly reduce risk to your business. Without a firewall, your business could easily succumb to a cyber-attack, causing you to lose all of your important data. This would not only disrupt business processes, it would also reduce productivity and likely damage your reputation and brand.

Did you know? 60% of small businesses close within 6 months of a cyber-attack.

Cyber criminals can easily probe every computer connected to the internet and attempt to penetrate their systems. Without a firewall, they can gain access to your important files, depositing them, removing them or using them maliciously. The potential implications of this can be disastrous, often leading to considerable financial loss, reputational damage, and fines from authorities.

But a properly configured, maintained, and monitored firewall will protect your data, network, and devices. Importantly, you need to ensure that your firewall has the power to manage normal and encrypted internet traffic without slowing down your devices or compromising security. If you have a good IT support partner, they will configure and manage the firewall for you as well as taking care of all security updates. As such, you can be assured that your firewall is being taken care of by a team of IT experts, helping to protect your business from new and emerging threats.

Furthermore, choosing a managed firewall service will also reduce your capital expenditure, saving you maintenance time and cost. With Netstar’s managed firewall service, you pay a smaller, manageable monthly amount and don’t need to pay for any hardware costs or worry about configuring, updating or upgrading.

Why it’s crucial to have the right cyber security strategies in place NOW

Over the course of 2020, cyber threats have become an increasing concern to businesses and individuals, and this is set to continue throughout 2021. Cyber criminals are taking advantage of the recent rise in remote working, recognising that current circumstances make employees, devices, and systems more susceptible to attack. They are therefore creating more sophisticated, targeted, and frequent attacks. In fact, Cyber Crime Magazine reported over 4,000 new, malicious COVID-related websites were identified within the first few months of the first lockdown. And this is not set to slow down, cybercrime experts predict that the number of attacks will continue to rise at an unprecedented rate throughout 2021.

As such, businesses must be more proactive than ever when it comes to their cyber security and having an effective firewall in place will contribute towards this. For more information on the risks of remote working and how to combat them, you can download our jargon-free guide.

Cyber Security Quiz

An effective firewall will protect your business from:

1. Remote login

Cyber criminals have the tools to login to your devices remotely. They can then control the device, steal information, or install malicious programs and spyware. An effective firewall will help protect against unauthorised access to your devices via the internet.

2. Email session hijacking

If cyber criminals gain unauthorised access to your network, they can hijack your SMTP server. This means they’re able to send spam or malicious emails to your contacts via your email server. This would considerably damage your reputation, causing clients to lose faith in your brand and its security. An effective firewall helps protect against email session hijacking, ensuring the valuable relationships that you have with clients are preserved.

3. Application and operating system backdoor vulnerabilities

Certain programs and applications could give cyber criminals remote access to your network via features or bugs, giving them control over the program and putting your employees and data at risk. A firewall will help block hidden access and ensure your applications are secure.

4. Denial of service

Denial of service is a specific, disruptive attack that could penetrate your server. In this instance, your server would receive a request to connect. When the server attempts to respond, it cannot find the system that made the request. If your server is repeatedly hit with these types of connections, it could slow them down considerably and cause them to crash, meaning your productivity is disrupted. An effective firewall will prevent these kind of attacks from occurring, ensuring your server isn’t slowed down by disingenuous requests.

5. Email bombs

Similar to a denial of service attack, an email bomb sends the same message to an address on a server so many times that it causes the server to crash. Again, an effective firewall will prevent these attacks and ensure your team can continue to work without disruption.

6. Malicious macros

A macro is a rule or pattern that determines how an application will run. Cyber criminals can create macros that tell your applications to do things that you don’t want them to, such as delete data or crash the computer. An effective firewall will block these attacks, keeping your data safe and productivity maximised.

7. Viruses

Viruses are extremely common and can cause serious disruption to businesses. In fact, the global cost of malware (including all viruses) has risen from £366 billion in 2015 to £1.5 trillion in 2019, which is predicted to reach £4.4 trillion over the course of 2021. Viruses specifically can spread extremely quickly through networks and emails, often carrying out unwanted activity. For example, viruses can monitor your activity, slow down your device, delete data or lock or crash your device. An effective firewall will block viruses before they can infiltrate your network, protecting your devices from becoming infected with malicious software.

Netstar’s managed firewall can offer you:

  • A simple, global management system that’s easy to set up and use, enabling central management
  • A hardware firewall with same day replacement if needed
  • Configured backups and updates so your firewall is always performing at its best
  • Fully managed by us, so you don’t need to worry about potential threats
  • Built-in additional security features
  • The ability to scale as your business and technology needs dictate

What’s next?

If you would like to learn more about firewalls and why they’re integral to business security, please get in touch today to speak to an expert about how we can help you.


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