Firewalls, sometimes referred to as network security appliances, are a critical component of any company's cybersecurity strategy. A robust set of perimeter and internal firewalls on a network can help keep malicious traffic out and reduce the disruption rate of attacks from within the network. However, to get the best results from a firewall deployment, that firewall must be managed effectively.
What are some of the biggest challenges for effective firewall management for robust security? Also, how can you overcome these challenges so that you can improve the security of your network?
Here is a short list of some of the biggest challenges and some firewall management tips / How To Choose The Right Managed Service Provider:
Firewall management # 1: choose the right firewalls for your needs
You will be surprised to know that there are many types of firewall architectures to choose from. Many of these architectures are the result of the creation of earlier types of firewalls to improve the security they provide. The basic progression of firewalls in order of complexity and security looks like this:
Packet filtering firewall. These are the oldest and most basic types of firewalls. They do a cursory check of the data packet information, such as source and destination addresses, packet type, and port number, without opening the packet for further inspection.
Walkway at circuit level. These simplistic types of firewalls are intended to provide fast, low-impact verification of data packets. These firewalls check the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) handshake to verify that the session is legitimate. It's important to note that they don't verify the packet at all, so malware with a legitimate TCP handshake can easily get away with it.
Sanitary inspection firewall. These firewalls function as a combination of packet filtering and circuit-level gateway technology. They provide better protection than the previous two firewalls.
Application layer gateway. Also known as "proxy firewalls", these firewalls prevent the data packet from interacting directly with the network. Instead, these firewalls inspect the packet at the application level before interacting with the network. They include the same protections as a stateful inspection firewall, but can also add deep packet inspection to examine the contents of a data packet, potentially identifying malware code that may be missing from other firewalls.
Next-generation firewall. The most nebulous of the firewall types, as there is no real consensus on what makes one firewall truly "next-generation" than others. These firewalls may, depending on the developer, have some or all of the functionality of the other types on this list or may even incorporate other technologies such as Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) to work automatically to stop an attack in progress. Therefore, it is important to verify the specifications of any "next generation" firewall before purchasing.
As for which of these firewalls to choose for your organization, here is the real question: "Why choose only one type of firewall?" Many organizations use different firewalls and firewall management procedures for different parts of the network to create strong network segmentation and security.
Additionally, the choice of firewall you use may also depend on the specific goals of your organization. A network security device and firewall management procedure that work for one organization may not work as well for yours. So be sure to consult with a firewall management expert before deciding on any technology.
Firewall management # 2: build strong network segmentation
Network segmentation is a key strategy for establishing a deep defense against attackers. The main benefits of using strong network segmentation are that you can:
Slow down the attackers;
Improve general data security;
Simplify the implementation of a least privilege policy (POLP); is
Reduce the damage caused by a violation.
Configuring firewall implementations to create solid network segmentation is a crucial strategy for businesses because of these benefits. The longer it takes attackers to switch between systems, the more time cybersecurity experts have to identify and contain the breach. It also means reducing the total amount of data and resources that attackers can access simultaneously, limiting damage.
A firewall management strategy for creating solid network segmentation is to use a variety of firewall types to separate the different parts of the network from each other. This makes it difficult for attackers to use the same tactics to break through each segment of the segmentation, causing further delays.
Firewall management # 3: block hostile traffic without affecting legitimate requests
While firewalls should block potentially hostile traffic, they should also avoid blocking legitimate traffic requests. Otherwise, the user's experience on the network will suffer, creating inconvenience and reducing productivity.
To counter this, it is often necessary to create custom firewall settings to allow specific types of traffic while blocking others. In this case, having a managed firewall service can help provide the experience needed to configure the firewall for maximum security and minimal interference.
Firewall Management 4: manage firewall program updates
Many firewall solutions are software-based and therefore will require regular updates of their software to close potential vulnerabilities and update their hostile traffic definitions. Keeping a firewall up to date is one of the most basic firewall management procedures businesses need to perform, but these software updates are still easily overlooked when overloaded IT departments have other priorities.
Using a managed firewall service can help ensure these critical updates are made immediately, minimizing risk.