According to an Accenture survey, 67% of business leaders feel that cybersecurity risks are increasing. So, we thought we’d look into ways to help.
Introducing: firewalls – smart software that acts like a security barrier, to help keep cybercriminals out and stop the spread of malware (software designed to disrupt, damage, or gain access to your devices).
This is your quick-fire guide to understanding firewalls, where they fit into your cybersecurity system, and the other defences you should use to support them.
Firewalls have existed since the 1980s, but with the cyberattacks they protect against becoming more common and more intelligent, they’ve become a must-have for every business. Just like their name says, firewalls are designed to stop digital fires spreading. They can help detect and protect against commonly known malware like:
Phishing (fraudulent messages)
Spyware (software that hides on devices and steals sensitive information)
Ransomware (stealing information and blackmailing the victim until they pay a ransom)
...and much more.
Firewalls assess the web traffic that passes through them, letting trusted traffic in, and keeping untrusted traffic out. They’re pretty smart; they can be tailored with ‘policies,’ or predetermined rules, that let them carry out quick assessments, spot suspicious activity and block it before it becomes a bigger problem. They can also give you useful insight into the amount of traffic that passes through them, including how many attacks were attempted on your network.
They do have their limitations: firewalls can’t control human activity or protect against attacks that don’t pass through them. Since a large number of cybersecurity issues are caused by human error, firewalls should be one ingredient in the cybersecurity mix, not your only defence. That’s why you need to make sure you protect against other points of entry, like email, telephone, and hardware devices (like USB flash drives and CDs) to name a few. Here’s an example of what could happen otherwise:
Your employee receives a phishing email from a scammer who’s pretending to be you. Thinking it’s safe, they click a link in the email, which downloads some malware designed to steal your business’ data. As the attack came through email, not web traffic, it could be easily given access by the user, regardless of the firewall in place.
The same could happen with any kind of hardware attack, like an employee plugging in a USB flash drive or inserting a CD with malware hidden in it. Let’s not forget the risk of a cyberattack from a hacker cracking a weak password or tricking an employee into giving out sensitive information over the phone. That’s why having a multi-pronged approach to your cybersecurity is so important.
Cybercriminals are only getting smarter, so the key to staying safe is outsmarting them. If you look to smart technology, like firewalls, some of the work gets done for you. Investing in a firewall is a great place to start to boost your web traffic defences, but make sure to do your research to find the right one and support it with other systems too. A few we’d recommend:
A good antivirus software
Cybersecurity training and phishing awareness training for employees
Multi-factor authentication for logins
Restrictive remote/user access
Unusual access alerts
With these security measures in place supporting a quality firewall, the risk of cyberattacks on your business can be reduced. However, it’s important to know that not all firewalls do the same, so make sure you look at several different options, and ensure the firewall you choose can handle as much bandwidth as your internet connection. Always remember that hackers are getting more creative, so having a strong cybersecurity system will help you stay one step ahead.
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