Firewalls for Every Enterprise

Firewalls for Every Enterprise 

 

As the information technology sector is developing and advancing both in software and hardware utilized, so is the threat they face ever-increasing.  

No matter what size or what kind of business you have, your network is always at risk for cyber-attacks. For this reason, one needs an enterprise network security solution that prevents unauthorized access to your private network and keeps your data, devices and apps protected. 

Security has become a crucial factor for all businesses. After all, losing data can mean a huge financial loss. A strong security system will protect against this and many other threats to business continuity. Brands often utilize firewalls as part of their network security strategy to prevent attacks from innately malicious outside users and programs. 

 

What is a firewall? 

A firewall, just like every other set of computer programs with definitive functions and commands, is a program that is designed to block malicious traffic requests and data packets while allowing only trusted traffic. It helps distinguish network nodes from external traffic sources, internal traffic sources, or even specific applications. 

For every desired purpose and specific need, there are distinct types of firewalls to address organizational needs. However, how should organizations choose an appropriate firewall?  

Risk assessments and threat intelligence should be used to make informed decisions on what security measures to place on your network. The most common cyber-attacks will be known and knowing how severe they are will help you decide how much to invest in protecting your company from being hacked. 

Firewalls must also be compatible with your company’s security infrastructure, including any other security solutions you may have in place. A firewall is only as good as the rest of your security system. 

Finally, you should also consider the amount of technical expertise you have on hand; if you do not have the workforce or knowledge to maintain the firewall, you may need to switch to a simpler option.  

 

What are the types of firewalls to choose from?

Firewalls with Packet-filtering

Packet-filtering firewalls, the most “simple” and renowned type of firewall architecture, carry out their function by developing a checkpoint at a traffic router or switch. It inspects the destination and origination IP addresses, packet type, port number, and other peripheral information in data packets passing through the router without having to do a deep scrutinization of its contents. If the information packet fails the examination, it will be discarded. 

The advantage of packet filtering firewalls is that they do not consume considerable resources. This implies they have a minor influence on overall system functionality and are straightforward. Compared to other firewalls with more comprehensive inspection capabilities, they are written in languages a layperson can efficiently operate on. 

 

Circuit-level Gateways 

Circuit-level gateways are another simple firewall type whose specialty is to verify the transmission control protocol (TCP) handshake. They are created with the sole reason of approving or denying traffic. This TCP handshake check guarantees the packet originates from an open session. 

Packet-level firewalls are incredibly resource-efficient and can be programmed to only check the contents of packets, instead of their headers, which is a significant reason these firewalls are so effective. However, these firewalls alone may not be enough to provide comprehensive security in your organization. 

 

Next-Generation Firewalls 

Many of the most current firewall products are marketed as having “next-generation” architectures. However, there is less agreement on what constitutes as a proper next-generation firewall. 

Deep packet inspection (involving the analysis of the actual contents of the data packet), transmission control protocol handshake checks, and surface-level packet inspection are all frequent characteristics in next-generation firewall systems. Technologies such as intrusion prevention systems (IPSs) that seek to thwart assaults on your network automatically are often considered to be included in next-generation firewalls. 

Since the next-generation firewalls are not definitive in functionality, it is critical to double-check what unique features these firewalls offer before investing in one. 

 

Stateful Inspection Firewalls 

These are hybrid firewalls as they consist of features of packet inspection and TCP handshake verification. Together these achieve some degree of security that none of the previous three architectures could provide on their own. 

However, these firewalls tend to significantly constrain your computing resources because of the dual functions that carry out. When compared to other solutions, this may slow down the transfer of genuine packets, and this may lead to more time and resources consumption.

 

Proxy Firewalls 

Proxy firewalls filter incoming traffic between your network and the traffic source at the application layer, hence the name “application-level gateway.” A cloud-based solution or another proxy device is used to offer these firewalls. It restricts direct traffic connection and instead creates a relationship with the traffic source to inspect the incoming packet. 

Stateful packet inspection techniques inspect packets at both the header and data levels, making it the most effective firewall model. It is also reliably able to detect malicious traffic and block it, a task which may be impossible with proxy-based firewalls that only look at the header. 

Packet-filtering firewalls, on the other hand, examine network traffic based on the contents of data packets. 

The proxy sends the packet after the check is complete and is approved to connect to the destination. This adds an extra layer of separation between the “client” (the system from which the packet came) and the individual devices on your network, hiding them and giving your network more anonymity and security. One major flaw to Proxy firewalls, however, is the tendency to slow the process due to the number of steps involved in the data packet transfer process. 

 

Classification of Three Firewalls  

Software Firewalls 

Software firewalls include any firewall installed on a local device rather than a separate piece of hardware (or a cloud server). A software firewall’s main advantage is that it can create a defence for each network node while distinctly being separated from each other. 

Individual software firewalls on different devices, on the other hand, can be difficult and time-consuming to maintain. Again, there might exist the issue of software compatibility with the devices on the network, which will further cause the deployment of multiple software firewalls to protect all assets, which would be resource-consuming. 

 

Hardware Firewalls 

Hardware firewalls capture data packets and traffic requests before reaching the network’s servers. It uses a physical device that functions similarly to a traffic router. Physical appliance-based firewalls excel at perimeter security by intercepting malicious traffic from outside the network before it reaches the company’s network endpoints. A hardware-based firewall’s biggest flaw, however, is its tendency to be easily attacked from within. Again, different specifications and capabilities based on the hardware manufacturer also exist. 

 

Cloud Firewalls

Many people confuse cloud firewalls with proxy firewalls since a cloud server is extensively used in proxy firewall configurations although the proxy does not have to be on the cloud. It is the utilization of cloud solutions to deliver firewalls. The ability to scale cloud-based firewalls with your organization is a significant advantage. You can expand the cloud server’s capacity to filter more significant traffic volumes as your demands develop.  

 

Summary 

The type of firewall one needs depends on several factors. What are the business’ security and compliance needs? One must take into consideration the date, volume, bandwidth, and budget. Lastly, how the firewall will interact with other network devices is major component in deciding what option works best. Regardless of which to choose, consulting a professional to help install it and make sure it meets your needs is encouraged.  

 

About PulseOne 

Want to learn more about what option would best suit your business? At PulseOne, we put our insight and experience in IT management solutions to work for businesses like yours. Receive enterprise-level IT support from a company that passionately works for your success. Start by contacting us here.