Not all Firewalls are Created Equally!
A firewall is usually a firm’s first line of defense against harmful viruses and malware. Without it, computers in your environment are susceptible to a plethora of potential threats. To keep up with recent advancements in computing and network technologies, firewalls have also evolved. As a result, it can be a daunting task to pick the appropriate firewall that factors in all your business needs but it is an important one.
Here are some tips that may be helpful when you are in the market for a firewall.
The size of the firm
The size of the firm aiming to deploy a firewall is an important consideration when evaluating the capabilities of a firewall. Generally, the more users you have in your environment the larger the firewall needs to be. It is also important to factor in future growth because most firewalls cannot be upgraded to accommodate new users. Think of it this way, each user on the network can have several browser Windows open. Each requires a session on the firewall to manage. Larger firewalls allow for more sessions and are therefore tiered to the size of the organization using them.
Type of business are you involved in
The type of industry you are in can greatly influence the need for a firewall. For firms running a small operation that do not store customer data, a simple software firewall may be enough. However, simpler firewalls lack sophisticated features such as virus detection, spam management, web site blocking, country blocking and real time inspection of the data flowing to and from the firm. If you are over 5 users, consider a comprehensive firewall no matter what type of work you do. The challenges faced today are much more sophisticated than in the past. Do not scrimp when it comes to your firewall.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A Virtual Private Network is one form of remote access which allows users to log on to a secure network from outside the firm. A specific type of firewall is needed to support remote access. Some firewalls come with special VPN software that must be installed on the client computer to connect while others use a more general VPN standard. The number of users with remote access will influence the type of firewall you require and how much it will cost. In general, if you can afford a more sophisticated type of remote access technology use that instead of VPN. VPN’s are typically used for site to site connections. VPN’s can present security risks depending on how they are set up and used.
Hardware or software firewall
Firewalls fall into two main categories – hardware or software. For private usage a software version is mainly used. This can be installed on your computer and you can set guidelines to block unsafe applications from running on your system. The downside to software firewalls is that they can be challenging to configure and they may only protect the computer they are installed on. Hardware firewalls on the other hand are stand-alone products which still can require expertise to configure but protect the entire network by default. Hardware firewalls are more expensive. Think of a hardware firewall like a toaster – you can make toast in the oven but a toaster does a much better job of making toast! In the same way, a purpose built hardware firewall does a much better job of protecting the network.
Device Awareness requirement
Another important consideration when purchasing a firewall is device awareness. Employees in a firm’s environment may bring a variety of devices with them to access the network in the workplace. Device awareness allows the firewall to identify, monitor and report on all these devices in your network and can enforce guidelines depending on the type of device.
Review these points before purchasing a firewall. At Triella, we deliver and manage enterprise level firewalls that help to protect your business against intrusions. If you have any questions about network security or would like to evaluate an upcoming project, please contact us.
Faraz Mehmood is a Sales & Marketing Coordinator at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Faraz can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.
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