Businesses that use the internet for vital operations, communications, and outreach activities are constantly at risk of attacks against their internal systems. Cybercriminals and other malicious actors take advantage of poor or weak network security to gain access to restricted networks and cause disruptions to operations.
IT directors and cybersecurity professionals working in mid to large-sized enterprise settings use firewall management to organize their network security. This approach allows them to operate without fear of disruption or compromised data.
Why Use Firewall Management?
For IT managers concerned with the privacy and safety of their networks’ users, unsecured systems present liabilities that cannot be ignored.
Network attacks cost money, waste time, and leave important information vulnerable to breaches. For enterprise organizations that want to reduce their liability and improve performance, firewall management is an important part of operations.
IT and network operators should be aware of the benefits of using firewall management in their deployments. Firewalls protect networks and devices by preventing or restricting unwanted user access and traffic. This prevention gives decision-makers greater flexibility when dealing with potential threats.
Businesses often turn to firewall management for added protection against potential cyber threats because they are the best way to defend network architecture against intrusion.
Firewalls provide users with the tools for improved network security and management. Both private businesses and large enterprise organizations can benefit from a well-configured firewall.
Different firewall management deployments provide various levels of security, tracking, and management capabilities for users depending on the type that is chosen. Firewalls can fall into different categories, including software, hardware, and cloud-based. Potential users should be aware of the strengths of each.
Software-based firewalls are usually installed on user devices and offer a point-to-point level of protection due to the separation of network nodes between systems. These software firewalls are great for individual users and systems with a small footprint. They’re simple to configure and present a lower-cost means of protecting networks.
Using software-based firewalls does come with some caveats, however. They’re often more labor-intensive, and for larger organizations, it takes much more time to deploy them for individual devices. This time makes it difficult to respond quickly when issues arise and push updates across the entire ecosystem when changes need to be made.
Software firewalls also present compatibility issues. There’s no guarantee that a specific program will work on a particular device, leaving IT directors and cybersecurity professionals to figure out the best solutions through trial and error.
Furthermore, software firewalls would possibly require multiple deployments across a network for effective coverage.
Unlike software-based firewalls, hardware firewalls are generally installed on specialized equipment created by the manufacturer specifically for network security. These hardware firewalls work well for enterprise businesses because they create a defensive perimeter that keeps malware and viruses outside of the internal network.
Hardware firewalls are used by IT directors and cybersecurity professionals to process traffic before it’s allowed onto the network. This approach means there’s usually less risk for individual users because their devices aren’t exposed to potential vulnerabilities. Hardware solutions help IT departments keep network security manageable.
While hardware firewalls are a good way to protect an entire network, they also create a single point of failure. Networks that are only protected by hardware firewalls will be compromised if an attacker can bypass their security measures, giving them total access to the system.
Another problem is that the level of protection depends on the quality of the equipment manufacturer rather than just the software. Hardware firewalls are generally more expensive than software-based solutions but offer more protection with simplified administration over the entire network.
Cloud firewalls are available to clients that want to outsource their network security. These types of firewalls are made to work alongside existing network architecture to provide advanced security and management of user traffic. By setting up a reverse proxy, users can access protection for their private networks from remote servers.
Most cloud-based firewalls scale effectively and often reduce IT costs for organizations that deploy them. They offer virtualized management and powerful remote support capabilities that give IT directors and cybersecurity professionals network transparency so they can quickly block potentially malicious activity before it causes real harm.
While cloud-based firewalls offer cheaper and more flexible protection, they also create another vulnerability for cybercriminals to exploit. Cloud firewalls mean that network traffic has to be redirected through a third-party, creating potential liabilities for users that aren’t careful.
Network speed can be a factor as well. Slow performance can reduce productivity and make it more difficult to perform important functions.
Software, hardware, and cloud-based firewalls are only some of the more general use cases for IT infrastructure. Many other types of firewalls don’t fit nicely into any one specific category.
- Application-level gateways
- Circuit-level gateways
IT directors and cybersecurity professionals should carefully consider each type of firewall and how it best fits into their network ecosystem.
How to Manage Your Firewall
Management of network security is an ongoing process. For the best security, it’s not enough to simply know the different types of firewalls. IT directors and cybersecurity professionals need to understand best practices for managing firewalls over the long term.
Using a full stack of firewall security and developing creative strategies for unique problems means the ongoing collection of data so that networks don’t become outdated and vulnerable to potential attacks.
By using multiple deployments, creating unique solutions, deploying ongoing tracking and reporting, and keeping vital systems up to date, IT managers and cybersecurity professionals are better equipped to deal with vulnerabilities within their networks.
Use Multiple Deployments
For the best network security, it’s important to consider a diverse approach to firewall management. Rather than choosing one type of firewall and sticking with it, IT directors and cybersecurity professionals should deploy the full range of software, hardware, and cloud solutions to protect their networks from threats.
Building layers into your cybersecurity systems will provide greater flexibility from malicious actors and cyberattacks.
If you want effective network security solutions for your business, consider using hybrid deployments for comprehensive coverage of IT systems. Separation of different assets will help ensure exposure of one level doesn’t put your entire network at risk.
Create Custom Solutions
IT managers and cybersecurity professionals need to choose solutions that work for them. Businesses and enterprise organizations should consider the best ways to deploy firewall management systems within their network ecosystems.
Finding the network security infrastructure that fits your business model is essential for establishing effective long-term solutions.
Considering which firewall types — software, hardware, or cloud — are most likely to help you grow and adapt to the ongoing changes in your industry will allow you to develop and deploy a practical network security model.
Firewalls can scale effectively when proper network architecture is considered. By assessing, prioritizing, and targeting specific users and endpoints, decision-makers can create solutions that fit their needs.
Do Ongoing Tracking and Reporting
Network security protocols require continuous management so that breaking changes or missed updates don’t leave users vulnerable to attack. For organizations that rely on network security, it’s important to have measures in place for ongoing assessment and management of potential cyber threats.
IT directors and cybersecurity professionals benefit from the constant collection, analysis, and reporting of data. The best way to secure a network against attacks is to stay a step ahead of potential problems.
By developing systematic audits and risk reports, you can optimize your network and improve your infrastructure’s defenses while streamlining processes and reducing costs.
Stay Up to Date
Even the smallest flaws in firewall hardware or software can create huge gaps in network security. Firewall software needs ongoing updates and bug fixes to ensure potential vulnerabilities aren’t abused, and hardware should be inspected and reinforced so that potential disasters don’t leave organizations unable to complete important tasks.
Properly maintaining firewalls deployed across your software, hardware, and cloud systems is vital to keeping users safe while operating on the network.
Security patches add important defenses for users by limiting the number of flaws available in firewalls for potential attackers to exploit. Firmware updates add important enhancements, features, and security updates.
IT directors and cybersecurity professionals should work to establish guidelines and procedures defining best practices for updating software within their organization.
Better Firewall Management with Touchstone Security
It can be difficult for mid to large-sized enterprise organizations to properly manage their cybersecurity. Firewall management, in particular, takes a great deal of time and energy, resulting in higher operational costs and lower efficiency.
If you’re an IT director or cybersecurity professional looking for better ways to manage your IT infrastructure, Touchstone Security is here to help.
Touchstone Security provides measurable cybersecurity solutions built with flexibility and efficiency in mind.
Our programs were built on years of industry experience and are designed to provide fully-managed IT and cybersecurity capabilities for your business. We offer comprehensive security and compliance training alongside active monitoring and security response services.
Touchstone Security provides cybersecurity programs for mid-sized organizations such as banks and financial institutions in addition to cloud security work. We work to create a safe and supportive environment for your enterprise organization so that you can focus on your core business.
Don’t let outdated or misconfigured firewalls ruin your security architecture. Have a CISO audit your firewall configuration today!