Firewalls are a critical underpinning component of cyber security and implementing the necessary network security controls for the prevention and detection of threats.  

They also play an important role in incident response, where they are a crucial enforcement point, to block and contain threats at the perimeter or between network segments, and also post-incident for Digital Forensics where the firewall logs will provide insight into the threat actors behaviour during the incident. 

This article examines what a firewall is and how they can help protect your network from threat actors. 

Firewalls Explained: What is a Firewall? How do Firewalls work?  

Securing the attack surface is a key part of an effective cyber security strategy. Enterprises are investing more heavily in solutions like Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and Extended Detection and Response (XDR), with researchers expecting the global XDR market to reach $2.06 billion by 2028.  

While these technologies are important in securing modern enterprise networks. Today, a modern enterprise operates beyond traditional offices and utilises Cloud IaaS and PaaS environments. Many organisations make the mistake of overlooking the importance of the traditional network and security basics like firewalls.  

At the simplest level, firewalls are used to protect against intrusions into a network. They do this by inspecting traffic entering the network and decide whether it’s permitted to enter or not. If it detects the traffic is malicious, it blocks it from entering.  

NGFWs (Next Generation Firewalls) provide greater protection than traditional firewalls because they offer the ability to decrypt encrypted traffic so that a hacker can’t use obfuscation techniques to bypass a network’s defences.   

They also allow for greater granularity for implementing security policy. Traditional firewall policy was based on source IP, destination IP and port (application), whereas next generation features like 'Identity Awareness' and 'Application Control' allow for implementation of policy based on users, user groups and applications. 

It can also be used to respond to harmful activity within the network. For example, if an application attempts to send malware to another device, the firewall can intercept and block it. Bot detection is an important next generation feature of the latest Firewalls as they identify infected hosts within a network by identifying Command and Control (C&C) traffic. 

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Network Firewall Best Practices  

Although most organisations know what a firewall is and have one in operation, there are few who are implementing continuous monitoring and configuration optimisation to maintain performance for end users and mitigate security risks.  A Firewall is critical to a network’s infrastructure and a poorly managed one can result in critical disruption to an organisation’s network, impact their ability to connect with customers and disrupt their ability to trade.  

If you’re struggling to manage the security of your firewall, contact the experts at Integrity360 and they will help you set it up properly. They will also provide guidance on how you can better secure your network environment.  

The number one goal of your firewall management strategy should be to deploy policies that block malicious traffic while ensuring that legitimate traffic remains operational and unhindered.  

In addition, it is also important to continuously monitor the firewall alongside other security tools like intrusion detection and prevention systems to reduce the likelihood of someone breaching the environment.  

If a breach does take place, security teams need to be able to identify false positive alerts and avoid wasting time on them, while having the visibility to actively respond to legitimate security incidents. This is often easier said than done. If an incident does occur do not hesitate to reach out to our Incident Response team 

Integrity360’s Answer to Firewall Security: Managed Next Generation Firewall Service  

To help organisations who do not have the ability to continuously monitor and manage firewall configuration settings in-house, Integrity360’s Managed Next Generation Firewall Service provides you with 24/7/365 support to help you manage your firewall configuration settings.  

The service can help you deploy recommended features and optimise firewall configurations while ensuring compliance with CIS Security Controls alongside other frameworks and regulations.  

Security capabilities that can be configured as part of the service include:  

  • Network Firewall  
  • Application Control  
  • Identity awareness  
  • Sandbox -dynamic threat emulation for zero days  
  • Antivirus  
  • Botnet detection 
  • Web content filtering  
  • SSL inspection 
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention  

It also includes 24x7 service desk support, configured backup management, system upgrades and patching, platform monitoring, advanced SLA (Service Level Agreement), granular policy control, security enriched reporting, and incident response, to ensure your environment stays secure against even the most advanced threats.  

Don’t Overlook Network Security Fundamentals  

Managing your firewall is an underrated aspect of modern cybersecurity. If you don’t have your firewall properly configured then you’re creating opportunities for skilled attackers to enter your network undetected and locate high value data assets.  

Configuring your firewall and managing your firewall to industry best practices yourself or enlisting the support of a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) will greatly enhance your network security posture and allow for identifying advanced intrusion attempts and detection of threats on your network. 

Learn more about Integrity360’s Managed Next Generation Firewalls Services in our downloadable eBook. Get your copy via the link below. 

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