How to Choose a Firewall for Your Business Needs

Businesses face a growing number of cybersecurity threats that seem to increase by the day. There are many different components of a strong cybersecurity plan for businesses, and one of those components is a firewall. 

A firewall is a fundamental and foundational network security device that works by monitoring both incoming and outgoing network traffic. It then permits or blocks said traffic based on security rules. 

A firewall can be described as a barrier between an internal network and traffic that comes from external sources. The primary goal of a firewall is blocking viruses, hackers, and other forms of malicious traffic. 

Of course, this isn’t the only thing you need for robust, modern cybersecurity. For example, many businesses are increasingly looking to a DNS protection solution. Even so, while it’s not the only thing to think about when designing network security plans, a firewall can be important, and the following are some things to keep in mind to choose one for your business. 

Types of Firewalls

There are different types of firewalls available, which is something you may not initially realize if this is the first time you’ve implemented network security solutions in your business. 

Firewalls first off can be either hardware or software, and many companies go with both. A physical firewall is an actual piece of equipment that’s installed between a network and a gateway. A software firewall is installed on all of your network computers, and it handles traffic through port numbers and applications.

Software firewalls tend to be good for protecting individual users, but when you have several users on a network, they may not work as well. Businesses with more employers and network users might instead utilize a hardware solution. Typically any more than three or four users are going to make hardware a better option. 

Packet-filtering firewalls are the most commonly used type, and they look at a packet’s source and IP addresses of the destination.

Even though packet-filtering firewalls are considered effective, and they’re often used, they still have many limitations and offer only a basic level of protection. 

Another type of firewall is next-generation. A next-generation firewall includes not only the traditional functions of a firewall but also added functions including anti-virus and intrusion prevention system protection. A next-generation firewall may also include spam filtering. 

Other types of firewalls are proxy, network address translation, and stateful multilayer inspection firewalls. 

The two most basic things a firewall for a small business should have are first the ability to be used as a router, and second, remote access control to the network. 

What About Firewall-as-a-Service?

Firewall-as-a-service is something that’s growing in popularity. 

With Firewall-as-a-service, there are varying features that may be available, but the one thing these all have in common is that you pay monthly payments and get real-time monitoring and updates. 

If you don’t have a lot of resources to put toward your firewall and keeping it updated, firewall-as-a-service could be a good option.

Other General Things to Consider

Other things that will factor into your firewall decision include:

  • How easy is it to use? This is especially relevant in smaller organizations that don’t necessarily have someone to act as a full-time system administrator. Larger businesses may have entire departments that deal with cybersecurity so ease-of-use isn’t a top priority in the selection process. 
  • Scalability is an integral part of any cybersecurity decision. Your goal as a business of any current size is to grow, and that means you’re also going to be adding more data, networks, and users over time so your firewall solution should be able to grow with you appropriately. 
  • Finally, somewhat along the lines of scalability is the importance of versatility in selecting a firewall. It may be that you end up testing different firewalls to find the right option for your organization. You have to consider the fact that the applications and software you’re currently using may be very different from what you’re using even next year. A firewall needs to be able to evolve with the changing needs of a business.

You may find that even a next-generation firewall doesn’t meet all of your needs, after you start your search, however. If this is the case, you could end up exploring more comprehensive DNS protection options instead, or at least in addition to the implementation of a firewall. 

Regardless of your specific approach, cybersecurity should undoubtedly be a top business priority for 2020 and years beyond. 

1 thought on “How to Choose a Firewall for Your Business Needs”

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