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.
Firewalls majorly reduce risk for your business. A firewall could be the difference between your business succumbing to a cyber attack, and you losing all of your data, and the attack being easily deflected and your business continuing to thrive as usual. 70% of businesses that experience a major data loss go out of business.
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" through.
With a firewall you can completely 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.
At home, you may have a software based firewall, but your business will need a hardware based firewall to keep all unwanted traffic out of your network. You can also control what computers on your network send externally. This means that as well as blocking unwanted access, you can also control what kind of emails can be sent out from your network - which means you can prevent employees from sending business sensitive information.
Without a firewall, anyone on the internet is able to attempt to connect to your network via any of the connections you have to the internet. A technically savvy person would be able to probe every computer connected to the internet and attempt to make connections to them, potentially allowing them to deposit or remove files if they find any security holes. The potential implications of this are disastrous.
Also manage and control outbound traffic from your network
Your firewall can also block access within your network to specific websites. This can result in a boost to the productivity of your employees if they are spending a lot of time on distracting, non-work related websites. A firewall also prevents your employees from accessing potentially unsafe websites that could lead to your network being infected with malware.
A good firewall for businesses shouldn't result in any slow down on your computers. If you have a good IT support partner, they will configure and manage the firewall, also taking care of all the security updates.
You can also reduce the capital expenditure, and maintenance time/costs related to a firewall if you sign up to a managed firewall service. You pay a smaller, manageable monthly amount, and do not need to pay any hardware costs or worry about configuring, updating or upgrading the device.
Using a firewall can protect against:
- Remote Login - Unauthorised connections from users on the internet can allow them to remotely login and control the computer, stealing information or installing unwanted programs and spyware.
- Email session hijacking - Unauthorised access can result in hijacking of your SMTP server, which means that spam could be sent to your contacts, via your email server - making the true source of the spam difficult to trace, and damaging your reputation and relationships.
- Application and Operating System backdoor vulnerabilities - Certain programs have remote access features or bugs that allow hidden access, giving some level of control of the program.
- Denial of Service - This is a disruptive attack on a server, where the server receives a request to connect. When the server attempts to respond, it can't find the system that made the request. Repeatedly hitting servers with these types of connections slows them down massively and causes them to crash.
- Email Bombs - Similar to the above, an email bomb is the same message sent to an address on a server so many times that it crashes the server.
- Malicious Macros - A macro is a script you can create that is run by an application. Hackers can create macros that tell your applications to do things that you don't want them to do, such as delete data or crash the computer.
- Viruses - Viruses are well known and well documented. They can spread very quickly through networks and emails, and often carry out unwanted activity on your computer such as monitoring your activity, slowing your computer down considerably, deleting data, locking the device completely, or crashing the computer.