If you’re like most people, you know what a firewall does on a very basic level. However, many are unclear as to how they work – and in some cases, if they have one enabled in their network. Below, we’ll discuss the whys and wherefores regarding firewall protection and provide some clarity to anyone asking “Do I need a firewall?”.
What Is a Firewall?
Your network security depends on a gatekeeper to sort out those who wish to communicate with or access your business network for legitimate reasons from those whose intentions are less than ethical. A Control model defines what type of traffic the firewall allows to pass and which traffic is denied access. Some types of firewalls include:
- Access Control Lists
- Next Generation (NGFW)
Access Control Lists
Access control lists or ACLs perform a basic function. Through some very simple rules, they determine network access based on IP addresses. However, ACLs provide only the most basic information on incoming traffic and are not nearly adequate enough to filter out traffic threats.
Acting as a middleman of sorts, a proxy firewall can make more intelligent decisions. The proxy firewall vets the incoming communication and determines its legitimacy. If it decides to grant access, the information is repackaged with the proxy server as the source address. This is referred to as packet filtering. This process breaks the one to one connection between the two computers so that there is a single gateway between the network and the rest of the WWW.
Next Generation Firewalls
While the description above is a gross simplification of the process, one can easily envision hackers finding a way around a firewall through development of more sophisticated malware. Next generation firewalls (NGFWs) are even more sophisticated, combining traditional firewall protection with added filtering functionalities. They can be more granular in their inspection of incoming traffic and can detect more sophisticated application specific attacks, for example.
Why Do I Need Firewall Protection?
Make no mistake about it, hackers would love to compromise your POS system and harvest your customer’s credit card data. Some may simply want to hijack your high speed connection to send out spam email or viruses. Either way, they can do tremendous damage to your company’s reputation.
A firewall provides protection against session hacking, viruses, malicious worms and identity theft, among other things. Here are just a few of the bigger threats that are out there:
- Viruses and their after effects
- POS Intrusions
- Phishing (Identity Theft)
- Denial of Service (DoS) attacks
- Rootkits (Spyware)
Even next generation firewalls (NGFWs) aren’t 100% effective. It may be advantageous to review your current network firewall setup to ensure that the network security you currently have in place isn’t outdated. When it comes to network threats, it is often more cost effective to be proactive rather than reactive.
What Can BITS do for your business to ensure your network security?
With over 20 years’ experience in network security, the BITS team of network security experts can ensure that your network is protected from hackers, viruses and the many other security risks that exist. Working with primarily small and medium sized businesses, our network consultants can assess your current situation, install a brand new hardware based firewall or make recommended changes to your existing network security.
Take the first step to ensuring your businesses’ network security by getting a FREE network assessment from the IT professionals at Beacon. Or, call 336.447.3473. Either way, you can rest assured that you’ve taken the first step to securing your computer network from the increasingly sophisticated threats that await.