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The number of Cyber Crime incidents targeting Businesses has nearly doubled since 2016 – these incidents are mainly driven by Ransomware attacks and newly created attack methods. Because of this, Business owners, key decision makers and heads of IT are under more pressure than ever to ensure the security of their Computer Network and to protect the data that resides within their internal Network, or in the Cloud.
Anti-Virus isn’t enough.
Many Small Business owners still believe that keeping their Anti-virus software up-to-date will provide them with sufficient protection against the latest Cyber threats, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. A modern Business Computer Network requires a multitude of Cyber Security services and solutions to collectively repel a constant barrage of daily Cyber-attacks. One of these solutions is a Hardware Firewall.
A Hardware Firewall is one of the most effective (and essential) Cyber Security solutions that can be used to maximise your Network Security. In fairness, most of our clients already have a Hardware Firewall in place when they join OhSo Technical (although many of them are not properly configured). However, there is still a surprising number of Small Businesses out there that don’t have any form of Hardware or Software Firewall in place.
What is a Firewall?
A Firewall protects your Network from unauthorised access, preventing hackers, malware or other malicious attacks from entering your network and ultimately your Systems and Computers. A Firewall will monitor incoming and outgoing traffic activity on your network and decide whether to allow or block this traffic based on the Firewall Configuration rules that have been applied.
What is the difference between a Hardware Firewall and Software Firewall?
A Hardware Firewall.
A Hardware Firewall a dedicated piece of Network Security equipment that is placed between your Internet Connection and your Computer Network. The main advantage of using a Hardware Firewall is that it monitors Internet traffic at the point of entry, blocking unauthorised access and malicious attacks BEFORE they enter your network. A Hardware Firewall is typically used in a Commercial environment because it provides protection for every Computer device on your network.
In addition, Businesses with many Computers prefer to use a Hardware Firewall because it allows them to Administrate their Network Security from a single device. Hardware Firewalls also feature many enhanced security controls.
A Software Firewall.
A Software Firewall is a Software Application that is installed locally on a Computer. Software Firewalls are far cheaper to purchase, but they are less effective because they only protect the device they installed on, whereas a Hardware Firewall protects the entire Network by denying traffic at the point of entry. In addition, Software Firewalls require installation, configuration and ongoing updates to be applied on each individual Computer.
A Software Firewall requires the resources of a local machine to run, whereas a Hardware Firewall is a device that uses its own dedicated hardware and Operating System.
It is worth noting that most modern Computer Operating Systems include a basic Software Firewall. Windows 10 for example comes with Microsoft’s ‘Windows Defender’ Firewall.
Why do I need a Firewall?
Here’s 5 essential reasons for your Business to purchase a Hardware Firewall.
Mitigate Cyber Security Breaches Company-wide.
The main purpose of a Firewall is to prevent a Cyber Security attack or Hacking attempt. A Hardware Firewall can be configured with a specific set of rules that will recognise and block known Virus and Malware instances, in addition to blocking unauthorised external access attempts.
Monitor and Control Internet usage.
There’s no escaping a good Firewall! In addition to monitoring inbound traffic, Hardware Firewalls can also be used to monitor and block outbound traffic from within your Organisation. By applying the correct rules, your IT function can block employee access to Social Media sites, identify and stop access to inappropriate websites and restrict excessive Internet usage in both Business and Non-Business Hours.
This process will also help to increase productivity in the workplace and ultimately, improve your Business profitability.
Use Network Monitoring to prevent an attack or breach.
NO Firewall in the world can provide 100% protection against the latest Cyber Security threats. Unfortunately, every Network can be breached. If Google can be a victim of a Cyber Attack, then we all can!
A dedicated Hardware Firewall will have the capacity to monitor all inbound and outbound Network traffic and alert your IT Company/Manager if there is any unauthorised or suspicious activity on your Network. This will allow you to act quickly in the event of a breach or attack.
You will be able to configure and manage your alerts and alert notifications from within the Firewall software dashboard. Typically, most hardware Firewalls can be configured to send notifications via Email or Text message.
Protect your Company Emails and your reputation.
A Hardware Firewall can be configured to protect your Email Server. If a hacker gains access to your Network, they could potentially hijack your SMTP Server and use it to send spam to your existing contacts from one or more of your email accounts. This action could result in a loss of Customers, or irreversible damage to your reputation.
Create a Virtual Private Network.
A Hardware Firewall can be used to create a secure encrypted network connection called a Virtual Private Network, also known as a VPN. With a VPN connection (or a VPN tunnel), home workers and mobile device users can connect to the Company Network and access resources through a dedicated encrypted connection, giving you an additional layer of Network Security. In summary, with a properly configured VPN connection, no one will be able to intercept your sensitive and personally identifiable data.
A Site-to-site VPN Tunnel.
If you are using compatible Hardware Firewalls at multiple locations then you can create a ‘site-to-site VPN Tunnel’ which allows you to create a single secure connection between multiple fixed locations. There are two types of site-to-site VPNs:
Intranet-based – Typically used to join multiple remote locations to a single secure private network, creating a single WAN (Wide Area Network). For example, Organisations with multiple office locations will use the same network, so they can access the same resources and emails directly without using a remote access application.
Extranet-based – Typically used to create a secure shared connection to selected shared resources, without creating a single WAN. This type of connection could be used for Sharing information with suppliers and partners, without giving them full access to your Network.
Not all Firewalls are created equal.
There are many Hardware Firewalls on the market, but not all of them have the same features, enhanced controls or frequent software definition updates to keep your network fully protected. Make sure that you conduct your due-diligence, or feel free to contact us for some no-obligation advice!
No single Cyber Security Solution will provide adequate protection against the latest Cyber Security Threats. In order to keep their Network fully protected, Businesses should be using a Hardware Firewall and where possible, this Firewall should be combined with other Cyber Security products, including Anti-Virus Software, Malware protection and Spam filters.