Firewall Management: Protecting Your Business from Cyber Threats

firewall management

Cyberattacks come in so many different shapes and forms these days that it can be extremely difficult to keep track of the methods being used, never mind being able to recognise an attack when one does happen. Cyber threats are evolving and becoming ever more sophisticated, making them far more difficult to detect, and even harder to protect your business against.

You need to make sure that you’re taking every step that you possibly can to keep your company, your operations, your data, your users and your clients safe. And one technique of doing just that is by using firewall management to protect your network and any data transmitted on it.

What Is Firewall Management?

Firewall management is the process of managing a network security system, which monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic. Essentially, it acts as a barrier between your internal network and external networks (such as the internet), filtering out potential threats while allowing safe data to pass through.

As Henrico, who is one of the SOLID IT Pros that often works with firewall setup and management, explains: “Firewall management is much like a gatekeeper for your company’s digital assets. It involves configuring, maintaining, and updating your firewalls to ensure they effectively safeguard your network from unauthorised access and malicious actors, while allowing legitimate traffic to flow smoothly.”

A firewall can be either hardware or software-based, and there are several types available depending on your network’s needs.

What Are The Main Types Of Firewalls?

There are five main types of firewalls: traditional firewalls, proxy firewalls, packet-filtering firewalls, stateful inspection firewalls, and next-generation firewalls (NGFW). Each type has its own unique way of monitoring and controlling traffic to provide protection.

• Traditional Firewalls

Traditional firewalls, often referred to as the first line of defence in network security, are critical in maintaining the security of your IT infrastructure. They control network access by evaluating the IP addresses of incoming traffic. If the IP address is in the firewall’s database of trusted addresses, the traffic is allowed, otherwise it’s or denied. This straightforward method of security can be highly effective, but it does have its limitations. Traditional firewalls lack the sophistication to differentiate between authorised users and potential attackers if they are both making use of a trusted IP address. This is where the more advanced firewall types come into play, providing a more comprehensive and nuanced approach to network security.

• Proxy Firewalls

Proxy firewalls act as an intermediary between your internal network and external networks, making requests on behalf of users. They inspect and filter all incoming traffic, only allowing authorised and secure data to pass through.

• Packet-Filtering Firewalls

Packet-filtering firewalls examine incoming packets of data to determine if they should be allowed through or denied based on a set of established rules. These rules can be based on factors such as source IP address, destination IP address, port number, and protocol.

• Stateful Inspection Firewalls

“Stateful inspection go a step further,” Henrico explains, “by examining the state of active connections.” These firewalls combine the features of proxy and packet-filtering firewalls, since they don’t only inspect individual packets of data but also keep track of the state of network connections to ensure that incoming traffic is part of a legitimate connection.

• Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW)

“Next-generation firewalls (NGFW) integrate traditional firewall technology with advanced functionality like encrypted traffic inspection, and intrusion prevention systems,” says Henrico. NGFW rules can also help you to manage app control, helping to curb the threats posed by internal threats like Shadow IT, or to avoid vulnerabilities from outdated apps becoming compromised.

Why Does Firewall Management Matter?

Firewall management is crucial for maintaining the security and integrity of your network. Without proper management, a firewall can become ineffective, allowing malicious traffic to bypass it and compromising the safety of your network. A poorly managed firewall can also cause performance issues, slowing down network traffic and hindering productivity.

“It’s not just about creating a barrier,” Henrico explains. “It’s about ensuring that the barrier adapts to the evolving world of cyber threats. It’s about protecting your company’s data integrity, maintaining your business continuity, and safeguarding the trust of your clients.”

How Can You Manage Your Company's Firewall Rules?

Properly managing your company’s firewall rules involves a combination of technological tools and best practices. But it also isn’t a task that has to be undertaken on your own. One of the biggest assets in your cybersecurity arsenal is finding the right technology partner to work with, who have an in-depth understanding of IT security techniques like firewall management. This will not only ensure that your company is as protected as possible against advanced cyberattacks, but can see your internal teams focusing their efforts on where they will have the biggest impact, rather than spending their time learning about the best ways to configure firewall rules.

“At SOLID, we are focused on keeping your firewall’s firmware and policies up to date,” says Henrico. And as the IT Pro who deals with our clients’ firewall management most often, he would know. “We conduct regular reviews and updates to align with the latest security threats and business requirements,” he explains. “And when you work with us, we ensure that this balance is expertly maintained, since we bring both the technical expertise and the understanding of your unique business needs.”

What Are The Industry Best Practices For Firewall Management?

No matter which technology partner you work with, it’s important to have an established process for managing your firewall rules. Here are some industry best practices to keep in mind:

• Block All Access By Default

To limit the amount of traffic their network needs to manage, many businesses take a stance of blocking all incoming and outgoing traffic by default unless there are specific firewall rules that allow it through. This helps prevent any unauthorised access or malicious traffic from entering or leaving your network, but if your company is adopting a remote or hybrid working strategy, it will also require very careful management, since you don’t want your rules to impact on the productivity of your remote humans.

• Regularly Review Rules And Policies

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to conduct regular reviews and updates of your firewall rules and policies. This ensures that any outdated or unnecessary rules are removed, and new rules can be implemented for changing business needs and to address advanced and evolving cybersecurity threats. Whether you’re keeping your firewall management in-house, or are working with an outsourced IT company, it is a good idea to undergo a Systems Review which includes evaluating your firewall policies at least once a year.

• Keep Your Software Up To Date

It’s crucial to keep your firewall’s firmware and software up to date. This will help ensure that your firewall is equipped to handle the latest threats and vulnerabilities, as well as being able to support new features and functionality. Regular updates also help prevent any potential security gaps that could be exploited by attackers.

• Keep Track Of Authorised Users

Along with regularly reviewing firewall rules, it’s important to keep track of all authorised users who have access to your network. This includes employees, contractors, and any third-party vendors who may need temporary access. Keeping a record of authorised users can help identify any suspicious activity or unauthorised access, as well as enable quick responses in the event of a security breach. This is also particularly important when it comes to those team members who are going to be accessing your network from their homes or on their own devices as part of your BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies.

• Document All Firewall Changes

Documentation is essential for effective firewall management. Every time a new rule is added or an existing one is modified, it should be documented in detail. This includes the reason for the change, who made the change, and when it was implemented. This ensures accountability and helps with troubleshooting if any issues arise.

Find The Right Technology Partner

For many businesses, managing their own firewall may not be a viable option due to limited resources or expertise. In such cases, it’s important to find the right technology partner who can provide managed firewall services. This means that a dedicated team of experts will handle all aspects of your firewall management, including updates, rule reviews, and any necessary troubleshooting or configuration changes. By partnering with professionals like Solid Systems, you can ensure that your firewall is in good hands and receive around-the-clock support for any security concerns.

At Solid Systems, firewall management forms part of our Managed IT Services. But our technology management packages are about so much more than just one area of your cybersecurity. We work with you to understand your unique needs and goals as a business, and to provide a strategic technology roadmap that will see your business adopting new IT solutions in the right way, configuring existing IT services to enhance your processes, and boosting their adoption throughout your company. Each of our certified IT Pros are cybersecurity specialists who can ensure that not only is your firewall management keeping your network, data and users safe, but that the humans in your business are trained in how to recognise and respond to potential attacks, that your domain and email communications are secure as well, and that you are prioritising protection against data breaches and other attacks throughout your business.

If you want to work with a technology partner that has your best interests at heart, then schedule your free IT consult with our Sales team today, and let’s see you stepping into the future with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the firewall rule management process?

The firewall rule management process involves five key steps. Initially, the rules are defined to control network traffic based on your organisation’s security policy. Subsequently, these rules are implemented or updated in the firewall. Regular audits are then conducted to ensure compliance with the security policy. Lastly, old or redundant rules are identified and removed to maintain the firewall’s efficiency.

What are the 3 main functions of a firewall?

The three main functions of a firewall include blocking unwanted traffic, permitting safe communication, and providing a robust defence against various cyber threats. Essentially, it serves as a barrier between an internal network and incoming traffic from external sources (such as the internet), ensuring that all communication aligns with established security rules.

What are the 5 steps of firewall protection?

The five steps of firewall management include:

  • Defining security rules based on your organisation’s policy.
  • Implementing these rules in the firewall or updating existing ones.
  • Conducting regular audits to ensure rule compliance.
  • Identifying and removing obsolete or redundant rules.
  • Ensuring the firewall system is kept up-to-date with the latest patches and updates.
Daniel Avinir

Daniel Avinir

Head of Client Success at Solid Systems | Virtual CIO I have a love and passion for people, their minds, technology, and nature.I believe in empowering people to work in increasingly flexible and productive ways, helping them unlock the collaboration potential and leading the cultural & technological change of our time.

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