Every business network should have a well-configured firewall as part of its cybersecurity strategy. However, it’s risky to rely solely on an external firewall to protect your resources against all cyber threats. Firewalls are effective but not the end-all in network security. Below are some tips on how to strengthen and secure your firewall as well as create a security architecture that makes the most of it.
Set Exclusive Firewall Configuration Rules
It’s best to configure a firewall to block ALL traffic to a network by default. Then, rules can be established about which users and devices are allowed access. In creating a firewall rules base, it is also important to restrict authorizations and eliminate redundant, contradictory, and obsolete rules. This will streamline traffic and reduce unnecessary delays.
Incorporate Internal Firewalls
The external or “perimeter” firewall protects a network against outside threats but not against internal threats. Businesses need a second line of defense within the network, which involves adding “internal” firewalls to network devices like laptops, computers, and servers and setting them to scan for threats each time they are rebooted. Furthermore, companies should have security protocols and training required of all employees to prevent virus and malware access through intentional or accidental downloading of files or clicking of links.
Use Security Access Points
Security access points (APs) are ideal for protecting the airspace in information-sensitive financial, medical, and distributed networks because they continuously scan the Wi-Fi environment for threats. EnGenius Wi-Fi 6 security access points come equipped with an intelligent wireless security system called EnGenius AirGuard™ (WIPS/WIDS) that identifies and eliminates intrusions and threats 24/7 while providing client devices with maximum performance.
Learn more about our 24/7 security access points with EnGenius AirGuard!
Establish Independent SSIDs and VLANs
It might be enough for small businesses like coffee shops and salons to create separate and simple business and guest networks. But for medium-size to enterprise-level companies, isolated SSIDs and VLANs are essential. When you divide up isolated networks or departments within a company into separate SSIDs and VLANs with partitioned assets, you prevent the entire network from being affected by a single attack.
There are some tips to keep in mind when establishing your SSIDs and VLANs:
1 Don’t make the names of your SSIDs so complicated that any variation on the text could be overlooked.
Hackers often create spoof SSIDs in order to trick staff and guests to connect to their network instead of the valid one.
2 Use pre-shared keys to authorize very large groups of users over a network.
Tools like MyPSK by EnGenius are designed to expedite the authorization process by creating and assigning PSKs instantly to groups of fifty users at a time (up to 500 on the same SSID). You can set expiration dates on the keys (for example, students and tenants) and allocate resources to certain users depending on their status.
3 VLAN pooling breaks a single network into separate virtual networks (VLANs) to reduce traffic.
There are two key benefits: Not only can each user access and navigate the network faster, but they could also theoretically wander between buildings (on a large college campus, for example) and still maintain a connection with their original VLAN and IP address. Since users are kept on the same VLAN with the same IP address, roaming and the user experience are greatly improved.
Firewall vendors work overtime to provide security patches whenever vulnerabilities are discovered. But it’s up to each business to make sure the patches are applied in a regular, systematic manner. Your IT team should set up a frequent patch management schedule to make sure all current patches have been applied to the network.
To demonstrate how important this is, hackers often create scanning software that attempts to find vulnerabilities in a business network. Once they find a weakness, they will continue to scan over and over again to find more. On the upside, hackers know better than to share the vulnerabilities with others because, the more attacks against a business network, the more likely security vendors will be alerted, and a patch created. On the downside, hackers who don’t share network vulnerabilities will go undetected longer.
Don’t Forget Deep Packet Inspection
SMBs usually don’t need the highly sophisticated firewalls that enterprise businesses do. “Next-gen” firewalls are designed for the enterprise space and are usually priced higher than other firewalls. However, they provide far more than traditional functionality including intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS), deep packet inspection, advanced threat intelligence, malware scanning, and protocol monitoring from data link Layer 2 all the way through application Layer 7. Because larger enterprises tend to be the target of DDoS and other types of persistent attacks, the next-gen firewall can provide the protection they need.
Use Common Sense
Don’t pretend that adding a firewall or other security device to your network is going to keep it 100 percent safe. Business network security consists of a multitude of measures taken in concert with one another—use a combination of internal and external firewalls, create separate VLANs, partition the network, check for patches, and establish security protocols that every employee must follow.
Firewalls are essential for any network connected to the internet. But they must be used as part of a larger cybersecurity strategy to safeguard your business. Ultimately, if you have information that absolutely must be hidden from all prying eyes, it shouldn’t be connected to the internet at all. The irony is that the most sensitive information your company possesses ought to be stored on an isolated device that doesn’t have—or even need—a firewall at all.