Strategies for Choosing a Firewall for Your Business
Whether you are just starting out or running an established company, keeping your company data, including customer information, cannot be left to chance. Much like how each business has unique requirements related to other forms of technology, equal consideration must be given to selecting a firewall that will provide appropriate protection for the size and scope of your business. By using these strategies for choosing a firewall for your business, you can rest easier knowing that your business will be protected from all manner of digital threats.
Choose Firewalls with Availability, Proxy Servers, VPNs, and Packet Filtering
The size and range of the technology your business relies on to carry out regular operations can notably impact the type of services that would provide you with maximum benefits. Perhaps one of the most critical factors in choosing a firewall service is the degree of firewall availability or having built-in coverage in the event that your primary firewall goes down. While smaller businesses may not need this form of additional coverage, any company that regularly deals with large amounts of customer data should consider services that offer secondary firewalls as an emergency backup.
Ensuring that your data has been sufficiently monitored and encrypted is an important consideration for picking the best firewall for your needs. Therefore, you should be aware of these tools and how they can improve your security. Three such tools are packet filtering, proxy servers, and VPNs (virtual private networks), each offering an increased level of protection for smaller to larger businesses respectively. Best suited for smaller companies with small Wi-Fi networks, packet filter technology integrates with your router to efficiently monitor every single data packet which crosses your network. While larger businesses should avoid packet filtering due to vulnerabilities from app exploits and direct cyber-attacks, it is an excellent option for a company with a limited online presence.
Representing a middle ground between packet filtering and a full VPN, proxy servers provide thousands of connections with encryption services for your IP (internet protocol) address by disguising the origin of your organization's network traffic. On the other hand, VPNs provide your IP address with complete anonymity even from your own ISP (internet service provider) and ensure that your website interactions are fully encrypted. Although VPNs provide a better security solution overall when used in firewalls, employing both proxy servers and VPNs together is ideal if you can afford to.
Consider Whether Software, Hardware, or Cloud Firewalls Are Best for You
For those who are unfamiliar with the three main types of firewalls available for your business, they are software firewalls, hardware firewalls, and cloud firewalls, each with its own pros and cons. A software firewall may be sufficient for your needs if your business operates off a single PC that does not spend much time online. However, it should be noted that while software firewalls will protect your systems from typical cyberattacks like trojans, malware, and viruses, they are less than ideal for larger companies due to their inability to intercept corrupted data packets.
As companion technology that is meant to work in conjunction with your existing Wi-Fi router, hardware firewalls are more than capable of detecting and blocking data packets from infecting your devices. Thanks to convenient features like pre-installed software allowing for easy plug-and-play installations, hardware firewalls can provide security coverage 24/7 by using smart features to recognize unusual activities and quickly review large databases for reference. While hardware firewalls are great for providing a direct solution to your security needs, you will need to shell out for systems that can accommodate large amounts of bandwidth and replace older models, which can be quite costly.
Serving as a sort of hybrid between software firewalls and hardware firewalls, cloud firewalls offer the advantages of both technologies while also helping to reduce your overhead and maintenance costs. Once you have the requisite hardware installed on your company's devices, all updates and necessary maintenance will be taken care of by qualified professionals employed by your cloud firewall service provider. This can be especially useful if your company is undergoing a period of growth and transition since the systems in place can easily be scaled up as needed. One noteworthy disadvantage is that your company will have to negotiate a contractual agreement with a cloud firewall provider, which defines your terms of service and level of responsivity from the provider itself, so take all due care to carefully examine the contract before signing.
Host Firewalls, Network Firewalls, and Enterprise Firewalls
Much like the types of firewalls mentioned above, there are three other firewall systems to choose from when selecting the ideal business firewall for you: host firewalls, network firewalls, and enterprise firewalls. Primarily designed to provide cyber security for a single PC or other device, host firewalls offer some basic protections but must be installed on each computer being used by your business. Network firewalls operate separately from the network host to provide a layer of separation and further protection for multiple PCs concurrently. Designed for major corporations with hundreds or thousands of users, enterprise firewalls offer the most protections with secondary firewalls, built-in VPN access, and access to bleeding-edge reporting and monitoring capabilities.
By having the best strategies for picking a business firewall, you can invest in the success of your enterprise by helping to ensure your data has the protection it needs. Check out our other articles to learn more about purchasing technology for your business and how to do so.
About Dan Martin: Daniel Martin is a technology researcher and writer with more than a decade of experience. He is a professional librarian and an experienced tech teacher, writer and blogger. Specializing in technology, Dan has taught courses in technology and writing at the college level, developed web pages for businesses and higher educational institutions, written on tech topics for leading national publications and created numerous how-to guides.