How to Pick the Right Firewall for your Business
Your Cybersecurity needs to be on point and a priority if you want to protect your business and its assets. Cyberattacks are on the rise and are not going to reduce, and so having the right network security level is paramount.
With so many vendors to choose from, the firewall selection process can get confusing, especially if you don’t have validated requirements.
It is essential that before you begin the product/vendor selection; that you have at least the key outline information so that you can ensure you are approaching the right level of product and vendor.
Do be aware of the size, scale, locations, network configuration, link type and rough bandwidth throughput. In terms of support, implementation and management, ensure that the vendor has robust support services and the ability to train your staff.
Below we will look at important features to look out for in the right firewall, and by the end of this article, you will be better placed to make a more informed decision on the proper firewall technology.
The Three Types of Firewalls
Firewalls come in all shapes and sizes, and with recent technology advancements, they can be broken down into three types;
Hardware firewalls: These are dedicated physical devices that would sit behind your router, ensuring that all traffic inbound (ingress) and outbound (egress) is checked. These firewalls have dedicated computer and storage and so scale and perform well based on the requirement. The firmware in them allows for many functionalities and capabilities around security, and so, depending on what you need, the firmware can provide a high level of protection from traffic. One of the drawbacks of hardware-based firewalls is that the firmware needs to be constantly updated and many hardware devices need to be upgraded if you need greater bandwidth and throughput.
Software firewalls: Software-based firewalls are generally installed on servers or virtual images. They have the same level of capabilities and services as hardware but depend on the underlying host device installed on. A key downside of software firewalls is that the traffic has to enter your network and travel to the host device before its scanned so there is an element of risk if there is an intelligent attack. In addition, any issue with the host device means that the firewall could suffer outages.
Cloud firewalls: Cloud-based firewalls are a hybrid option between software and hardware and essentially run as a virtual image with dedicated or shared compute resources. They can be clusters or set up as a pair in an outage event and are generally easier to update.
Once you have decided on the firewall type, you can then look at which product has the functionalities that you need. The following section lists the more common capabilities;
5 key capabilities of a Firewall you should consider
Does it have high availability: A core capability that you should consider. Having a HA pair means that if one suffers an outage, the other one will take over. This ensures service continuity whilst the failed one is returned to service.
Stateful packet filtering: This is the process of opening all traffic packets and checking to ensure the headers and packets are legit and do not contain any compromising data. Whilst this does create an overhead on the firewall, it is minuscule in the grand scheme of things.
VPN: Having client VPN and site-to-site VPN capabilities means that you can securely connect all your sites using high encryption. This keeps all your data in transit between sites secure. Client VPN capabilities means that your users can be anywhere and still connect securely to your networks.
Proxy services: A proxy service essentially acts as a gateway that masks the source’s true identity inside your network. In this case, your internal devices never actually communicate to the Internet directly for web traffic.
DDOS protection services: DDOS is the go-to tool for hackers when it comes to disrupting networks. Having a firewall that protects and diverts DDOS attacks is extremely useful.
What is the difference between host-based and network firewalls?
Host-based firewalls are installed on single devices (think Windows Defender on Windows 10) and essentially protect the local operating system.
Network-based firewalls protect the internal network from outside threats and are known as perimeter security devices.
Choosing the right firewalls means that you need to understand your requirements. You need to know what you are protecting and what level of protection you need. The device’s support and management will mean that you need to ensure your IT teams are trained to manage the devices.
If you want to look at managed firewall services or need help in selecting a suitable firewall, we would be more than happy to have a no-obligation chat about how we can help
If you like the sound of the ‘hands-off’ experience and having your IT and Cybersecurity taken care of by highly trained professionals, we would love to hear from you. Call our friendly team of experts on 0345 314 2001 for a relaxed chat about how we can make all this happen for you.
Alternatively, feel free to email us from our contact page here.
Our team is ready and waiting to help in any way they can.