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Introduction to Firewalls and Four Best Practices for Implementation

Ever since the pandemic emerged, the imposition of lockdown and WFH policies gave cybercriminals a lucrative opportunity to attack business systems. The FBI has reported that cybercrime has increased by 300% during COVID-19.

Therefore, it’s incredibly crucial that companies recognize the importance of effective security strategies to protect their sensitive data from hackers. And one of the most fundamental and effective approaches is to deploy a high-quality firewall to protect the network.

What is a Firewall?

A firewall is a network and system security tool that can either be in software or hardware. It monitors and examines all the inbound and outbound data traffic in the system and detects potential threats, viruses, ransomware, and spyware.

Based on pre-set and well-defined rules, firewalls ensure user authentication, help promote system and network privacy, and safeguard confidential business data.

Now that you know what firewalls are, let’s dig deeper to find out more!

Four Main Functions of a Firewall

A firewall performs four primary functions to ensure 360 degrees of network protection:

How Does a Firewall Work?

Firewalls define a set of rules and standards that dictate what data is allowed through, and what data should be blocked. Every packet of data going through a firewall is inspected and matched against the set of rules to ensure safe and secure network traffic.

Rules can be set and clarified according to your organizational needs and security policies. Incoming traffic is examined and treated particularly carefully. It is strictly monitored via multiple layered channels to stop cyber threats promptly. Outbound data is often somewhat less restricted, but is still inspected to ensure that unexpected traffic is not going out of the network, and that privileged or sensitive data is not allowed to leave the organization.

Some standard transport protocols for incoming traffic includes TCP, UDP, and ICMP.

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Best Practices for Firewall Implementation in Your Firm

Here are some excellent and must-follow best practices to make the most of your firewall program:

1.    Ensure minimum access rights

When installing a firewall, configure all the access rules and controls for both outbound and inbound communication. Only offer access in a granular, as-needed form – only when it is necessary for business operations. This helps you achieve “least privilege” security. It is more secure to slowly add security necessary as required instead of giving too much access and trying to claw back access on a piecemeal basis.

2.    Verify firewall is in compliance with business security controls

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Image Alt Text: Cybersecurity codes running on a laptop screen
Another essential tip to ensure effective firewall implementation is to match your firewall program’s terms and conditions to your business policies.

Firewall enforcement must be aligned with the security protocols of your company. Otherwise, user access issues can create anarchy throughout workflow procedures.

3.    Remove or consolidate outdated rules

Deprecated rules must be deleted or removed from a firewall system to keep it up-to-date and efficacious. Firewall policies change over time, and based on your requirements, your cybersecurity team must decommission old protocols. But be sure to document this (and any) change to your firewall rule base for audit purposes, and in case you are forced to roll back the change later on.

4.    Firewall audit and testing

Don’t ignore the significance of regular, documented firewall reviews and examinations. PCI compliance, industry best practices, and even cyber insurance underwriting demand that firewall review is conducted on a routine basis.

Firewall rule base evaluation and penetration testing are important as well. Approaches like war-dialing, internal configuration review, assessing DMZs, and inspecting virtual and physical LAN modes are all important aspects of a thorough firewall program review. This exercise can be time-consuming and complex for internal IT staff, and may not be as effective or objective when conducted in-house.

Hire an Expert Cybersecurity Solutions Partner

If you haven’t reviewed your firewall infrastructure or rules recently, we can help. ISA Cybersecurity has experts in a wide range of technologies, coupled with deep partner networks with some of the biggest names in cybersecurity. Our IT security team provides superior advisory and assessment services (which include penetration testing and ethical hacking) – this objective and thorough analysis of your firewall security can give you the affordable peace of mind that you are protecting your digital assets, your corporate data, and your business from cyber threat. And if you need assistance with remediation, we offer a full range of architecture design and implementation services to bring you up to date quickly. And if you’re looking to outsource your firewall or other cybersecurity services, ISA provides complete information security solutions customized to your requirements and budget.

The first step is contact us to learn more – you’ll find that we deliver cybersecurity services and people you can trust.


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