n today’s technology landscape, everything is connected. Thus, everything is vulnerable to cyber threats if the necessary security measures are not in place.
If you’re a company with an IT solution, you’re likely already using a firewall. However, is it effective?
Do you know what firewall solution your company uses?
Do you know what the technology protects against?
Firewalls are standard security protocol among companies, but even firewalls can vary in their ability to protect your network.
Standard firewalls used to effectively secure your company’s network from a cyber attack, but cyber criminals have found more advanced ways to disguise their malicious intent from a traditional firewall’s detection system.
Today’s businesses rely upon data to function on a daily basis and those looking to proactively defend their business against cyber criminals are embracing the more advanced features that are offered with a Next Gen firewall.
Do you know what a firewall does?
Firewalls are devices that have the means to inspect traffic that travels from one network to another and act based on the type of traffic they detect.
Before deciding on a firewall solution for your business, you must first understand how the technology works.
The following sections explain Next Generation firewalls and how they differ from less advanced firewall services available today.
“Essentially, Next Generation firewalls are a form of adaptive network security. The technology evolves to defend against today’s most common cyber threats.” Chad Hiatt (Vice President, IT Services)
What is a Next Generation firewall?
Next Generation firewalls are exactly what the name suggests: the next generation of firewalls designed to secure your network from today’s evolving cyber threats.
Traditional firewalls focus on the type of traffic that occurs. For example, if the traffic wasn’t coming from a secure site with https:// in the URL, the firewall would block the connection.
Today, most malicious traffic is disguised under the https:// code, so traditional firewalls would permit the traffic to occur without recognizing the threat.
Next Generation firewalls go a step further and analyze the content that’s being transferred across the network. Their features go beyond the network layer to secure your business by using an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS). An IPS monitors your network for patterns of suspicious behavior such as an attempt to transfer harmful content, even if it’s done through a secure connection.
There are two versions of the Next Generation firewalls offered today. Generally, these are classified as standard and premium.
- A standard Next Generation firewall will inspect traffic and content while scanning for malware threats attempting to access the network.
- A premium Next Generation firewall includes all the standard features. The firewall also offers, companies specific URL level filtering that provides the ability to block identified websites from being accessed within their network.
How do you know if a Next Generation firewall is necessary for your business?
Today, every business should be using a Next Gen Firewall, but there are some industries that are required by compliance standards to effectively implement the technology. For example, healthcare companies and PCI compliant organizations are best served by using a Next Generation Firewall as part of their security solution.
The most common problem we encounter is that even if a company has a Next Generation firewall in place, the technology has not been configured properly and its valuable features remain turned off. Without enabling its advanced protections, the firewall is essentially useless and the company is still at risk for a cyber attack and a likely violation of its compliance standards.
We most often see this problem among companies without a dedicated IT staff or capable managed IT services provider to help manage the technology.
Next Gen firewalls require a network administrator to implement and oversee the technology to ensure the firewall is effectively protecting your business. This can require a great deal of management overhead and some companies find one, or even a few, IT employees are not enough to keep up with the technology demands.
Are Next Gen Firewalls more expensive?
The short answer is yes. Next Generation firewalls are more expensive than their predecessors. In fact, over a three-year period, the technology can cost your company twice as much as a traditional firewall.
However, the legal and financial penalties that can result from a network breach can cost your business more than a few uncomfortable IT expenses.
We often see companies make a firewall decision solely based on price. They don’t quite understand the security features included in the Next Gen firewall, so they decide to “save money” and bypass the “extra” features the technology offers. This may seem like a sound financial decision, but if you don’t understand the security risks Next Gen firewalls protect against, then you can’t understand the impact such a risk can have on your company’s bottom-line, as well as its reputation.
All in all, IT security expenses are no longer an optional part of a company’s budget. In fact, Forbes recently released an Insights report that revealed 82% of executives in Europe and North America predict security investments will continue to rise in 2017.
Security spending may no longer be an option, but that doesn’t mean you must make a bad investment. At Aldridge, we require our managed IT services clients to have a Next Gen firewall in place before we can manage their IT environment. However, we know what we’re doing and what your business needs to avoid wasting time and money.
If you are charged with making your IT environment safer from cyber intrusions contact an Aldridge firm representative today to learn more about why we consider Next Generation firewalls to be a necessary component to help secure your IT environment.