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What is a firewall and does my business need it?

Firewall protecting businesses from cybersecurity attacks by ASG

It’s impossible to predict where and when a cybercrime will strike. Hackers will often attack anyone, no matter how large or small their organisation is. If you use the internet and run a business, you need a firewall to protect your network.

In this blog, we explain what a firewall is and why your business needs it.


What is a firewall?


A firewall’s primary function is to guard your network from intrusion by unauthorised users. A firewall checks both outgoing and incoming network traffic to make sure that only allowed packets can pass through. A firewall may be an actual piece of hardware or it may be an application running on a computer. Both types check incoming data flow and decide whether to restrict or allow it into the business network.

Installed at the network’s perimeter, a hardware firewall serves as a barrier between a company’s internal networks and the internet. Individual programmes can be protected by a software firewall that is normally installed on each individual device. Companies can centralise their firewall and security functions by using a cloud-based firewall, which reduces administrative costs.

Modern solutions enable advanced monitoring and alerting. A professional firewall can record all incoming network traffic and discover patterns. You can be warned when something needs your attention, such as a rapid rise in IP traffic. You can block requests completely or throttle the firewall so it only accepts a specific amount of traffic per minute.


Numerous layers of IT security


Managing the devices


You can use a firewall to safeguard all incoming and outgoing traffic regardless of whether your firm utilises computers, tablets, or even mobile phones and other mobile devices. Your files and those of your staff and customers are safe wherever they go thanks to the widespread use of the cloud.


Access control


A network-layer firewall recognises incoming requests by IP address. Your internet service provider assigns distinct IP addresses (ISP). When setting up a firewall’s access controls, you must choose an open or closed option. Open access allows all external IP addresses except those you block to deliver traffic to your network. Closed access blocks all traffic except approved IP addresses.

In addition to IP address filtering, firewall tools let you regulate local network ports. Leaving workstation ports exposed might lead to hacking or virus infection.

If your firewall only allows internal traffic and connections, you can’t work remotely. To avoid this, use a VPN. With a VPN, you set up a dedicated endpoint server at your office or on the cloud to handle remote connections. Individuals can connect to a personal VPN client, which launches an encrypted session between their computer and the VPN endpoint server.


Antivirus and spyware


Anti-virus software is used by hardware firewalls to detect and defend against harmful viruses that originate from the Internet. Like viruses, spyware is a type of malware that attempts to spy on your network in order to gain access to your company’s financial records and other sensitive information. Firewalls prevent this type of attack from occurring.

Always update your firewall’s anti-virus definition files. Most firewall tools scan for and install these daily to protect against new threats. This tells the firewall which IP ranges to flag as malicious. Firewalls focus on HTTP, which browsers like Chrome and Firefox use to load web content.

Strong firewalls also safeguard SMTP (SMTP). You can add firewall security to your email server to check for hazardous viruses and attachments in incoming messages.


Database protection


Websites and mobile apps need a back-end database infrastructure. Your web server must interface with the database to add or retrieve records, but external users or systems should not have direct access. Otherwise, you risk a SQL injection attack, when a hacker exposes back-end data. Only internal IP addresses from approved application servers should be able to access the database server’s ports. Block all other connections.


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