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

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.

You may have a software-based firewall at home, 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 block access to specific websites within your network and block 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, enhancing your employees’ overall productivity.

Why do I need a firewall?

A practical, managed firewall will significantly reduce risk to your business. For example, without a firewall, your business could easily succumb to a cyber-attack, causing you to lose all of your essential data. This would not only disrupt business processes, but it would also reduce productivity and likely damage your reputation and brand.

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

Cybercriminals can quickly probe every computer connected to the internet and attempt to penetrate their systems. Without a firewall, they can gain access to your essential files, deposit them, remove them or use them maliciously. The potential implications 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 regular 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 and take 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 reduce your capital expenditure, saving you maintenance time and cost. With IT Department’s managed firewall service, you pay a smaller, manageable monthly amount and don’t need to pay for hardware costs or worry about configuring, updating or upgrading.

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

Throughout 2020, cyber threats have become an increasing concern to businesses and individuals, and this is set to continue throughout 2021. Cybercriminals 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.

An effective firewall will protect your business from:

1. Remote login

Cybercriminals have the tools to log in to your devices remotely. They can 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

Cybercriminals can hijack your SMTP server if they gain unauthorised access to your network. This means they can 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 your valuable relationships with clients are preserved.

3. Application and operating system backdoor vulnerabilities

Specific programs and applications could give cybercriminals 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 remote 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 connections, it could slow them down considerably and cause them to crash, meaning your productivity is disrupted. An effective firewall will prevent this kind of attack from occurring, ensuring your server isn’t slowed down by disingenuous requests.

5. Email bombs

Like 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. Cybercriminals can create macros that tell your applications to do things 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 prevalent and can cause severe disruption to businesses. 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 throughout 2021. Viruses 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 machine. An effective firewall will block viruses before infiltrating your network, protecting your devices from becoming infected with malicious software.

IT Department’s managed firewall can offer you the following:

  • A simple, global management system that’s easy to set up and use, enabling central management
  • A hardware firewall with exact-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.