The Importance of Firewalls and Network Security
A Firewall is a software or hardware device that protects your computer from being attacked over the internet by hackers, viruses, and worms. This may occur on large corporate networks, or simply over small home and office networks; both contain the same element of risk - that is compromised networks or data.
Having a firewall within your organization, or at each office location, allows businesses to setup network rules and filters for accessibility, as well as scanning/monitoring traffic in and out of the local office's internet access. For example, with a firewall the company can control the access to certain websites, giving it the control of how employees use their internet access. Another example could be to allow networks at two or more office locations access to one another. This allows the offices to communicate over a private and secure network 'tunnel'.
Below are some of the key technical filtering/scanning services offered by most firewalls, which will benefit your business and its network activities:
- Packet Filtering: Small amount of data is analyzed and distributed according to the filter’s standards.
- Proxy Service: Online Information is saved by the firewall and then sent to the requesting system.
- Stateful Inspection: Matches specific details of a data packet to a database of reliable information.
Firewalls allow you to either add or remove filters based on certain parameters such as:
IP addresses: If an unknown IP address is suspiciously trying to access the network, the firewall can be programmed to block this IP entirely.
Domain names: If there is a domain (or a suspicious website) which is known to spreading malware and viruses throughout the network, a firewall will be able to block that website or the entire domain (i.e. acme.com).
Specific words and phrases: The firewall will scan each packet of information to match the filter content. You may select any word or sentence to be blocked. This will prevent end-users from accessing any websites or online servers which contain the filtered content.
Virtual Private Networks
Another key component to having a firewall is its private networking capabilities. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allow businesses to securely and collaboratively work across multiple offices, and allow end-users to virtually access the office network (usually through VPN software clients).
A VPN is designed to establish long-distance and/or secured network connections throughout the business. VPNs are normally implemented and deployed by businesses or organizations rather than by individuals, but virtual networks can be reached from inside a home network. Compared to other technologies, VPNs offer several advantages, particularly benefits for wireless local area networking.
For an organization looking to provide a secure network infrastructure for its internal users or client base, a VPN offers two main advantages over alternative technologies: cost savings and network scalability. To end-users, access to this type of private network connection also brings some benefits of ease-of-use.
Even though some firewalls offer virus protection, it is recommended to install anti-virus software on each computer. Depending on the layers of security you use, you will determine how many threats can be blocked by your firewall, and prevent any outside user to login into your private network.
In cases when you need to allow remote access from others to your network, you may create a DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). This is an option provided by most of the software firewalls; they will designate a directory on the gateway computer as a DMZ.
Management and Support
QUBYTE IT Support can assist your organization with the design, planning, testing and deployment of a firewall and network security infrastructure. We can assess what solution best fits your business needs and budget.