What is a Firewall?

3 Minutes Read

Firewalls are rightly considered essential components of network and IT security. We’ll give you a proper understanding of what firewalls are, how they protect your business, and why you need them now more than ever. 


What is a Firewall?

A firewall is a cybersecurity tool on your network’s perimeter that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic. It stops unauthorized traffic from accessing your private business systems, blocking both malicious users and software.

Firewalls most commonly come in hardware form, but can also come as software and cloud services.


What do Firewalls do and Why Are They Important?

Firewalls work as gatekeepers to your business network. They monitor when users attempt to access your system and lockdown unwanted traffic or unrecognized sources. A firewall blocks most malicious entities at the perimeter before they even get close to your workstations, databases, or servers.

Think of firewalls as a filter between your internal network devices and the outside internet. Malware and virus protection in case of intrusions from inside your networks are also built into many firewalls. A firewall, once installed, creates a border between external networks and your business’s network. This border is inserted inline and across your network connection. 

It inspects everything that goes in and out of the protected business network. As the firewall does its inspection, it utilizes a series of pre-configured rules to differentiate between benign and malicious packet threats to your systems. What do packets contain? Data and meta-information about that data such as its source. The firewall takes this information and determines whether a given packet matches its preconfigured allow rule sets. If it doesn’t, it blocks that packet from getting into your business’s network. 

The reason firewalls are critical is that, in many ways, they are the foundation of network security. They first emerged during the dawning years of the internet and have, since then, become standard in most devices.  


Are There Any Vulnerabilities with Firewalls?

The biggest vulnerability to your network is not having a firewall at all, so it’s always better to have one than to be completely open to attack. If your firewall isn’t properly maintained, hackers and other malicious entities may find ways to breach your systems. Remember to keep your firewall updated with the latest security; even better to have it managed properly by a competent IT team or your managed service provider (MSP). 

The less advanced your firewall is, the more vulnerable it is to higher-level attacks, especially if your firewall doesn’t use DPI to investigate data packets fully. Less advanced firewalls tend to get hit harder by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These types of attacks are forceful but straightforward, bombarding your network with large amounts of traffic in an attempt to overload and overextend its security and resources. 

Although next-generation firewalls can help mitigate, the evolving cyberthreat landscape will always create new challenges that will need to be faced. One could argue that even firewalls are susceptible to lateral insider attacks, but this reinforces the importance of having an advanced firewall that can isolate compromised servers and protect your system as a whole. 

Keep in mind that merely having a firewall is not the end-all-be-all of your network security. It’s an essential component of your IT and network security. Still, as a tool, it doesn’t replace the necessity for you to remain vigilant about other threats, your endpoints, and other IT assets. Firewalls won’t replace the need for your business to have solid policies and protocols in place for data protection, data recovery, business continuity and disaster recovery, and other important areas related to data security. 


The Future of Firewalls

The rise of next-generation firewalls has in fact been the biggest change in the evolution of this type of security, as with all innovative technologies, they will only continue to improve as they adapt to new and increasing threats. 

Perhaps the most significant change to look forward to is the increase in automation and intelligence in the NGFWs, which will further improve their ability to detect threats and mitigate the damage any breaches cause to your systems. 


Prioritize Your Business's Network Security

The most certain way to keep your business network secure is the use of firewalls. The more sophisticated the firewall, the more secure your private business systems will be. 

Instead of dealing with the headache and costs that come with training new or current employees to manage your network security, why not hand the task over to an MSP like Commprise? Our Managed Security Services is ready to provide your business with the technologies, insight, and oversight that your organization needs to stay ahead in the modern business landscape.