The modern firewall is a large part of today’s enterprise security. No longer is it a simple barrier keeping out viruses. Firewalls have evolved over the years to include a much heartier menu of security software to protect organizations everywhere. Here’s a look at what modern firewalls do for business.

Modern Firewalls

Most people think firewalls prevent what’s out there from getting in. Modern firewalls, also known as next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), offer much more than they have in the past. Today’s NGFWs start by filtering network traffic to protect organizations from internal and external threats. This is imperative given that 60 percent of data breaches are caused by insider threats and the current average annual cost of an insider threat is $11.5 million, according to IDWatchdog.

Monitoring Traffic In and Out

Proper cybersecurity is not just about what’s coming into your network, but also what’s leaving it. Modern firewalls provide packet filtering. Packet filtering is network security that controls the data flow to and from a network (i.e. traffic flowing in and out). It allows the flow of traffic to proceed based on a set of rules, protocols, internet protocol (IP) addresses, and ports. Imagine traffic flow on a busy street in downtown Boston. Let’s pretend that we identify red cars as viruses, green cars as malware, and gray cars as coming from bad IP addresses. When the traffic is flowing, the NGFW stops those red, green, and gray cars from moving forward.

Stopping Malware and Viruses

Modern firewalls can detect malware and virus activity so you can have an immediate response to threats within your network. For example, traffic leaving your network needs to be monitored as well as the traffic coming in because your company doesn’t want to accidentally send virus-infected emails to hundreds of people. Today’s firewalls can prevent your business from infecting others.

VPN Support

Another helpful tool of NGFWs is virtual private network (VPN) support. This is more important than ever given that so many companies have employees working remotely. With firewalls that support VPN security, you can feel better knowing your network is safe even with people working from afar. Network monitoring is also a component of NGFWs. This means your network is monitored constantly by the firewall for slowdowns or failures and notifies your network administrator so outages or other issues can be addressed quickly so as not to impede business.

IP Mapping & Inspection Capabilities

Firewalls also offer IP mapping tools as well. Every desktop, laptop, server, scanner, printer, modem, router, smartphone, etc. in your network is assigned an IP address. This ensures that traffic from each IP address through your network servers or cloud service work smoothly together.

What’s even better with NGFWs is they also have better inspection capabilities than in the past such as intrusion prevention systems (IPS) and data loss prevention systems (DLPS). These systems allow for greater control of traffic flowing both in and out of your network with the ability to identify attacks, malware, and other threats. The best part is NGFWs can block these threats as well.

Firewalls in the Cloud

Additionally, modern firewalls can be cloud-based. This means they can work in unison with your cloud services to resolve issues such as virus activity. The NGFWs of today allow for multi-cloud adoption. This means you can utilize a wide variety of cloud services from multiple points. Your firewall can contact other firewalls in your hive and still provide high-level security.

Firewalls are doing the same thing as your GPS in your car or mobile phone in terms of identifying issues. Rather than warning you that there is a speed trap or traffic slowdown ahead, firewalls can let you know quickly when something isn’t right and can respond to threats very quickly, reducing the odds of a breach or data loss.

Other Bonuses of NGFWs

Most NGFWs also provide other bonus capabilities when it comes to data protection. Organizations also get secure sockets layer (SSL) inspection. This means the firewall intercepts and inspects SSL-encrypted internet communications between clients and the server to ensure malicious content doesn’t get into your network.

Application control and advanced visibility across the entire attack surface of a network are also integrated into NGFWs. This is especially important in the ever-changing threat landscape businesses are now faced with. Finally, NGFWs also scale much better than in the past which means that as your organization grows, your firewall protection grows with it. That means your users don’t have to worry about slowdowns and weak security as your network expands and that leads to less downtime for your company.

Firewall Updates & Upgrades

ORAM Corporate Advisors recommends updating your firewall per your manufacturer’s directives, which is typically every three to six months. Your business should also be upgrading your firewall every five to seven years. By keeping your firewall updated and upgrading your firewall every few years, your business can keep up with technology and security. This is important for maintaining the best protection for your business data and reducing the chance of a cyber incident.

Top-Rated Firewalls 2021

Fortinet FortiGate is one of the best firewalls on the market. Whether you rely on local servers or the cloud, FortiGate provides a reliable, consistent solution that allows you to manage your entire business network from one interface. Furthermore, it has useful templates and reporting tools that make identifying threats simple. Some of FortiGate’s features include what you would expect of a standard firewall combined with a web filter, IPS, and gateway capabilities in a user-friendly package. It’s a very good solution for the price.

Cisco ASA Firewall also offers complete firewall functionality. It includes firewall policies and IPS policies to get your business off on the right foot. It also includes an IPS, VPN, and other features. This is ideal for businesses doing a number of things with their devices.

Another great option is Check Point NGFW. It provides secure access to the internet for small and big businesses alike in a secure manner. It also contains a threat emulation blade. The user identity awareness feature bolsters perimeter security and allows you to see what users are accessing what files.

For more information on NGFWs or to upgrade your firewall, contact ORAM Corporate Advisors at (617) 933-5060.