A Small Business Guide to Firewalls

One of the most basic IT security measures any small business can take is implementing firewalls. Here’s a useful guide to what this security measure is, how it works and the benefits of having a strong firewall.

What is a Firewall?

This is a part of your network security system consisting of hardware or software that acts to prevent malicious attacks from having any access to your system. It monitors all incoming and outgoing activity on the network, blocking packets of data that don’t meet the security requirements For example, if a cybercriminal tries to access your network from an unrecognised or suspicious IP address, the action is blocked. This way, the threat is stopped even before it arrives.

Of course, the more sophisticated a firewall is, the more threats it will block. Conversely, if your firewalls are weak or non-existent, then a hacker can gain entry to your systems, network and users fairly easily.

Popular and Effective Types of Firewalls

There are several different types of popular firewall technologies, all with different best-case applications. Most managed IT services providers layer these solutions according to what bestsuits your organisation’s structure.

  • Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) –These are fairly traditional and effective firewall solutions that have the benefit of offering more usability and functionality. They look at the entire packet of information being sent, not just the surface layer, which makes them very effective.
  • Proxy Firewalls – This is a firewall that works at the level of a software application, creating a secure pathway between the computer on the network and the host of the application. As a result, it is especially useful for small businesses using cloud technologies.
  • Network Address Translation (NAT) – These work similarly to proxy firewalls, acting as a monitoring system between a group of computers and external traffic. These firewalls are especially useful in remote working applications, as hackers cannot see the IP addresses of individual users, only the IP the system assigns the group.
  • Stateful Multi-Layer Inspection (SMLI) – This is the most intensive firewall technology currently available for general business use, and provides the most thorough protection by filtering packets at every level – network, transport and application levels. It compares and analyses data to determine its trustworthiness, ensuring your system is only communicating with sources that meet the highest levels of trust verification. This is commonly used in businesses that deal with high volumes of data or data with very sensitive applications, including industries with high regulatory compliance.

Benefits of Firewalls

  • Prevents hackers – Firewalls stop hackers by placing a shield around your network, creating a barrier between the network and the larger internet and working as a security guard to evaluate what data can go in or out. It works to block as much unwanted or dangerous code as possible, including spam, worms, viruses and other violations.
  • Greater control over internet access – There are many reasons to block certain websites from your network, whether they are un-secure or dangerous, or if they affect productivity, like social media sites.
  • Greater monitoring capabilities – Firewalls monitor and analyse data, so you can use it to gain greater control over how your bandwidth is utilised. You can slow down or limit bandwidth for non-business activities and open it up for high priority business traffic.

No Firewall Protection? Let Us Assist You

In order to protect your small business from IT security breaches, it is important to find the right managed IT services provider. AtOtto IT, we can design, implement and manage an IT solution within your budget, so you don’t have to expend essential capital on non-core business resources.

We can help you by providing fully-customised and cost-effectiveIT services and solutions specifically for small businesses, from IT support and cloud solutions to network security and disaster recovery. Contact us today and make sure your business is properly protected.