You’re not a big bank or Apple, so your business is safe from hackers. Right? Unfortunately not. Some hackers actually target smaller organisations, because they know an SME is less likely to invest in security.

So how can you protect your business and client information from falling into the wrong hands? A firewall can help.

What is a firewall?

A firewall is a network security system that controls incoming and outgoing traffic on a computer or network. This control is based on a set of policies or rules.

Early firewalls from the 80s and 90s – and cheap firewalls sold today – are too basic for most businesses. They only allow traffic based on a particular port, web address, or IP address. Newer and more advanced firewalls go one better, because they use application level scanning firewalls.

Why use application level scanning?

Application level scanning protects your business better, safeguarding it from viruses, hacking, and denial of service attacks.

You can also monitor how your staff use the network, opening up all traffic and being alerted when particular applications are used more than expected. For example, let’s say your business has implemented a cloud-based storage and file sharing application like Box or Dropbox. Then someone in your office sets up Google Drive to sync a copy of company data out of the network. With a robust business firewall, this unscrupulous activity can be monitored and blocked.

What about SSL inspection?

Over the years, many more online services such as banking and cloud solutions have moved towards HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) or SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).

HTTPS uses SSL to encrypt your traffic transmission and protect traffic from meddling masterminds. Unfortunately, many viruses, malware, and intrusions take advantage of this – and your anti-virus program doesn’t notice the threat because it’s encrypted.

Application layer firewalls can see which services are using those SSL connections. They do this by decrypting the traffic and inspecting it before forwarding it on to your client. It’s simply a superior way to protect your business.

5 more reasons to use a business firewall 

  1. Protect your local network: Firewalls safeguard any devices, services, and information on your local network from external threats. Many vulnerabilities on computers and networks are found by automated Internet bots looking for a weak spot. Once found, those vulnerabilities are then used to hunt for information or hack a network.
  2. Block illegal or inappropriate traffic: Use a firewall to block traffic by type, such as movies or social networks. Your firewall vendor will constantly update the list of locations for you.
  3. Get a unified threat management solution: Modern firewalls package a number of network services into one device, making it cheaper and easier to manage it from one location – virus scanning, VPNs, router, Wi-Fi, network separation, and even reporting on what your users are doing.
  4. Aggregate links together: If your business needs more redundancy and speed, firewalls can also be used to aggregate links.
  5. Greater protection: More threats can come from internal issues than external ones – staff clicking on bad links, downloading infected emails, or even stealing data. With an application layer firewall, there is a much greater chance that these threats will be blocked before any damage is done.

As you can see, while a firewall can never guarantee the safety of your data, it does provide a greater chance of keeping it safe. If you can’t afford to lose your data at all, then you should turn off your WiFi and disconnect your network cable!

Have a question about firewalls or anything else? Our friendly team is here to help.