Presently, the entire world is fighting with an unprecedented and precarious situation arising due to the widespread pandemic of Covid-19. With many employees working from home, business networks are even more vulnerable to hacking and phishing than usual. In this article, we will discuss how to select the best network firewall security and install the same so that thieves cannot hack into your clients’ systems.
While hacking and phishing are on the rise, a network firewall can protect business networks.
As employees are working outside the normal security protections of company networks, hacking into the systems has become comparatively an easy job. Employees are also under stress due to the Covid-19 situation, which makes them more vulnerable to social media and email phishing by hackers.
Through phishing, hackers lure the user to click on a link and download the malicious code on their system. Through this opening, they can steal confidential information and direct more attacks on the network.
Therefore, never was a better time to install VPNs and network firewall security into the systems of your clients. The firewall acts as a barrier to suspicious traffic, while allowing legitimate traffic to enter. So, let us go ahead.
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Install a firewall in 4 steps
Here are the basic steps to installing, configuring and testing a network firewall security system:
- Secure access to the firewall.
- Define network architecture.
- Configure the firewall.
- Testing of the firewall.
Let’s start with some tips on choosing the right network firewall for your particular situation.
Choosing the right firewall
Choosing the right network firewall for an organization can be tricky, given the varied scope and features of different firewalls. The selection of a firewall is also dependent on the size of the organization and its network infrastructure.
However, irrespective of the size of your client’s organization and all other requirements, there are some features that all firewalls must have. These are:
1. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
A VPN connection keeps your clients safe by securely connecting an unsecured public network (for example, workers’ home Wi-Fi internet connection) to the company’s private network.
If employees connect through VPN, hackers cannot extract data or track their internet activities.
This makes VPN a must-have for any business with employees working from home and using unsecured internet connections.
2. Web filtering
Web filtering refers to the filtration of the content that a user can access on the network. As an administrator, you can configure the firewall and set your own rules (in keeping with what your client needs) to filter the malicious or compromising content from the network.
3. Deep packet inspection
This is an advanced feature wherein the firewall inspects the data packet that passes through the network. Based on the rules set up by you (the administrator), if the firewall suspects the packet to contain any form of virus or malicious content, then it drops the packets and does not let it pass through.
4. Intrusion prevention system (IPS)
IPS continuously monitors the network and alerts you about possible malicious attacks. You can then take appropriate action for securing the system, including closing the access points and configuring the firewalls.
5. Malware and virus filtering
Network firewalls set up a defensive wall around your network and scan the traffic regularly for viruses and malware. If at any point, a system is detected to be infected, the firewall automatically disconnects that system from the network to prevent any harm to other systems.
Depending on the size of the organization and scope of your work, you can opt for any of the below-mentioned systems:
Operating system application firewall
Our computers (Windows or Mac) already have a firewall installed, but it is quite basic and can protect only an individual system. It is good only for individual owners who are not dealing with sensitive data.
Third-party software firewall
This firewall is best for networks handling sensitive data such as customer names, Aadhar numbers and passwords. It offers enhanced protection in comparison to the operating system firewall.
Practically, it is not convenient to install and manage firewalls on every employee system, if the company employs many people.
This is best for small and medium-sized businesses.
Therefore, the firewall router simplifies the task and can be configured with advanced rules to provide network security to all the systems.
Big enterprises require unified threat management systems that can handle the large network traffic and thousands of devices accessing the network from across the globe.
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How to install a firewall
There are primarily four important steps in installing a network firewall security system in any network.
Step 1: Secure access to the firewall
You definitely don’t want the hackers to get access to your firewall management system. Hence, give administrator access to only the people who are trusted and really need it. Then secure their logins with strong passwords.
You can create users with limited privileges as well.
Step 2: Define network architecture
After setting the access controls, you can create multiple zones in your network by placing the resources with sensitive data deep in the network with limited inbound traffic from the internet.
The greater the number of zones, the more secure is the network.
But complexity also comes at the cost of resources that are required to manage such a complicated network.
Step 3: Configure the firewall
Now comes the most important step, where you can configure and set rules (also called access control lists or ACLs) to control the traffic of your network.
You can filter the data based on different rules to control the traffic going into different zones of your network. Use the “Deny All” setting to restrict any type of traffic other than the one that is allowed as per the ACL.
Step 4: Testing of the firewall
Lastly, test your firewall to validate that it is blocking the traffic which is intended to be filtered as per the rules configured in Step 3 above. You can also implement penetration testing to test the strength of your firewall.
Network firewall security — more important than ever
Hackers are trying to find every opportunity to hack into your client systems. If you administer any of those networks, it is your responsibility to secure them from such attacks.
Installing the relevant network firewall security system as mentioned above can save your client systems and data.
It is also advisable to educate your clients, as well as your own employees and colleagues, about possible phishing attacks so that they can be cautious before clicking on any link/email or downloading any content from unknown/doubtful sources.
Now is the time for special vigilance.
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