IT security 101: What is a firewall and why should you care?

Knowing the possible devastation that results from malicious hackers penetrating your private computer systems, wouldn’t you be willing to do just about anything to prevent it?

In our last post, 2019 tech predictions you don’t want to ignore, we talked about the increasing threat of malware due to advancements in tech, and the effect this can (and does) have on businesses large and small.

With this in mind, we’re embarking on a series of blog posts to help you understand the main elements that combine to create effective IT security. Implementing each of these elements (properly) will improve your chances of avoiding these hacks.

So without further ado, let’s start with the first port of protection every business needs: a good firewall.

What is a firewall?

A firewall is a little black box that connects directly to the device that connects to the internet. Its job is to filter incoming traffic and prevent unauthorised users from accessing your network.

If you imagine your business as a castle, a Firewall is the moat that surrounds it and provides a first line of defence.

It eases the burden on the second and third lines of defence (archers who stand on the castle wall, and then soldiers inside the castle) by reducing the number of attackers who make it onto the castle grounds.

How does a firewall work?

When you send out a request for information via the internet (i.e.: you “Google” something), the internet sends the information back to your computer via your network port. Think of your network port like a road that leads to your castle.

There may only be one real road in, but there are thousands of other roads (ports) that attackers will try to take to get to your castle. This is why you need a good firewall, or moat, to stop them in their tracks. The firewall basically rejects any user who is trying to come through via the wrong port.

There will be a lucky few who do come down the right road and find a bridge over the moat, but this is where your other defences need to kick in and do their job.

Which firewall do I choose?

This depends on how deep you want your moat to be!

For basic home users, the firewall inclusion in a standard router is usually sufficient. This works in tandem with firewall software included in most anti-virus applications installed on the computer, and will do a reasonable job of preventing attacks.

For a business however, more users spending more time on the network increases the risk. The consequences of failing to protect data can also be more severe from a financial and reputational perspective.

Business users need a strong and intelligent firewall that can adapt to our ever-changing tech environment and pick up on sneaky attackers who are using unique ways to try and get through (such as parachuting over the moat!).

At Empreus IT, we recommend Juniper, Cisco and Watchguard firewalls. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the size and nature of your business. To find out which one is right for you, give us a call for a friendly chat and we can discuss your options.

Once your firewall is in place, we can also manage it for you via a Managed IT Services agreement. This is where we take on the role of security advisor for your castle, and walk the grounds 24/7 to make sure all of your defences are working as efficiently and effectively as possible.

To chat with us about getting a firewall or Managed Services for your castle, give us a call on (02) 6189 1322 or contact us now.