The role that the internet plays in people’s lives and business operations has only continued to increase as web services, cloud-based applications, and other services have evolved.
In fact, many businesses have even gone so far as to shift most of their services online or transition their web presence into a key advertising strategy for sharing their brand and information with customers. As you might expect, this trend has only accelerated in the wake of COVID-19’s disruption of business processes.
All of these new internet-connected devices and web-based services, however, have also attracted the attention of cybercriminals and hackers, motivating them to find new ways to target businesses and their web-enabled applications. Fortunately, just as attackers have evolved, so, too, have security tools that organizations can use to fight back. One of the most powerful comes in the form of network firewall security.
Just what is network firewall security, how does it work, and why is it important? Let’s dive in.
What are network firewalls?
Network perimeter defenses such as firewalls use rules to monitor and then filter traffic, either allowing it to traverse a network or blocking it. This can be the case in two scenarios:
- Within a network, where one business function is limited in their ability to view data or systems owned by another
- In limiting or allowing traffic inside a network to external, globally accessible systems
Another way to think of network firewalls is as a tool that separates areas of trust. In other words, an organization can trust their employees and systems to communicate and share data freely. But outside actors, systems, and data cannot be trusted, and therefore the system blocks them as malicious traffic and actors.
These network security concepts and policies can be more difficult to implement as organizations leverage web-based tools, remote system services, and the cloud to store and process data.
How does network firewall security work?
Network firewall security involves the practice of a system, either hardware- or software-enabled, carefully analyzing incoming and outgoing network traffic based on pre-established rules and filters.
For example, network firewalls typically “guard” traffic at a network’s internet-facing entry point, or gateway, and on specific services, called ports. In practice, someone with the IP address 192.168.1.1 trying to reach your internal website at 192.168.1.2 on port 80 is allowed in, while another user with the source address of 172.16.1.1 is not.
Although this example is highly generalized, network firewall security can be very advanced and complex, allowing for a wide range of rules and use cases to allow only trusted people or systems (source addresses) to enter or use resources within a network (destination address).
Based on this model, network firewall security can be further defined to allow specific users or systems to only access certain ports, applications, sites, or services, depending on who they are and if they are trusted. Firewalls allow organizations to block access to social networking sites, while still enabling access to external, web- or cloud-based applications.
Embrace the full power of network firewall security.
There is so much more to network firewall security than just allowing or blocking access to certain systems.
These systems also give security professionals the ability to:
- Log, monitor, and perform detailed analysis on network traffic to keep systems protected and identify trends or abnormalities in user behavior
- Proactively prevent unauthorized access to internal or external systems and data with precision
- Filter out malware and spyware based on certain signatures, like IP address, type of network traffic, or volume.
- Block accidental or unauthorized transmission of data or access outside of an area of trust, supporting privacy of corporate and user data.
Evolve your network security.
A look at recent headlines about data breaches and cyberattacks shows that the days of keeping your head down and hoping for the best is no longer an option, when it comes to your organization’s IT security. This is especially true as organizations increasingly rely on network-enabled devices, dispersed data centers, and cloud-based services and data storage.
However, by no means is this article a complete introduction to network firewall security, the wide range of firewall types, and their many benefits. If your organization wants to learn more about this powerful security tool or how to enhance your current deployment, the experts at VectorUSA would welcome the chance to talk with you.