If you work in IT, you can’t hear “remote working” without thinking “firewall”. And if you’re not a member of the profession, we recommend that you add it to your ever-growing remote working vocabulary!
With huge numbers of us accessing corporate networks from home, firewalls have been working harder than ever, and performance has never been more critical. As such, it’s time to ask the question – how is your firewall handling remote working? Is it appropriate for current conditions, or does it need reconfiguring, upgrading or supplementing with other technologies?
Ask yourself the following questions, and the answers will reveal whether your firewall is really handling the pressures of the new normal.
Q1: Has it served you well so far?
Look under the hood and analyse in detail how your firewall (or firewalls) have performed. Check the latency and bandwidth on VPN connections used by remote workers and work to understand why responses may be lagging. Delve into your firewall security logs, looking for unauthorised access attempts and pinpoint any new threats that have been intercepted.
Your findings may warrant a review of the company firewall policy and a cleanup – such as closing open ports no longer needed and auditing the network to confirm device statuses and expose any vulnerable endpoints.
Q2: Is your firewall configured for resilience?
In these times of unease and unpredictability, the term “operational resilience” has become a frequent substitute for the well-worn “business continuity”. It just so happens that a robust, intelligent firewall – which blocks internet-based threats from reaching the corporate network and wreaking untold damage and expense – is fundamental to achieving resilience.
Yet still, firewalls fail. And the cause of failure in an incredible 95% of cases is misconfiguration. Incorrect specifications due to user error or inadequate research result in a firewall that isn’t appropriately tailored to the organisation it is tasked of protecting
A firewall doesn’t end with installation, and you need to complement it with dedicated firewall policies and procedures that are owned and managed by an expert. Without this extra step, your firewall is highly likely to fail, leading to the network vulnerability that threatens that all-important business resilience. Read more about configuration here.
Q3: Are you safely facilitating remote working?
By this we mean, are remote workers using a VPN? Network security and VPNs go hand in hand. VPNs encrypt connectivity and are used by businesses to establish a secure connection between remote endpoint devices and corporate networks. Simple, policy-enforced solutions such as this SonicWall VPN Client provide easy access to data and apps while protecting against unauthorised access and cyberthreats.
A firewall on the other hand, forms a barrier between internal and external networks to monitor and control traffic between networks, but does not encrypt data permissible by security policies Think of firewalls as the gateways to securing internal networks, and VPNs as the ways of accessing these internal networks.
Although a VPN adds a non-negotiable extra layer of security, without a firewall its encrypting features are useless, so it is important to maintain your firewall even when using a VPN.
Q4: Is your firewall the right product for the real world?
The latest firewall products for businesses are flexible to individual user needs, allowing you to establish a resilient structure that’s suited to various activities being undertaken in your organisation. There is no need to settle for a one-size-fits-all solution when next generation, super-fast firewalls are available.
For example, the latest products from SonicWall a greater range of firewall rules to be applied to a local device, such as separate rules for accessing the network, using Zoom or homeschooling. Newer firewalls are also deploying machine learning and artificial intelligence traits to become better at identifying and blocking internet-based threats, giving the peace of mind that your prepared for emerging cyberthreats too.
Q5: Do you need to supplement with an SD-WAN?
Supplementing your firewall or firewalls with an SD-WAN may be attractive to your company if you have senior staff connecting to the corporate network from various locations, or colleagues accessing business-critical applications or highly sensitive data.
A typical WAN is created by putting in point-to-point internet connections or leased lines directly into a business, with no user access to the internet without passing through HQ. However, an SD-WAN takes everyday internet lines and creates a permanent, secure tunnel between sites. This allows smaller sites within distributed organisations to build, operate and manage high-performance networks using readily available, low-cost public internet services.
This essentially results in grouping multiple internet connections together as one and allows for businesses to connect sites spread over distances for the purpose of sharing data, apps and services.
The new generation of Secure SD-WANs help IT departments achieve consistent performance and availability of business-critical and SaaS applications while securing traffic from advanced threats across the entire network. Using an SD-WAN alongside a firewall can further boost security and network performance also.