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June 19, 2017

Network Security 101: Standalone Firewall vs. Layered Security

In today’s technology-dependent world, businesses know the importance of network security, though not all implement the proper safeguards. Many companies use a firewall as a standalone defense. Instead, it should be one of many in a full lineup of network defenses. In order to properly protect your company’s network, it is important to understand what a firewall does, its capabilities and flaws, and what additional security safeguards should be implemented.

What is a firewall?

A firewall is the “security system” that defends your network from unwanted and dangerous web traffic through fixed sets of rules. These rules determine whether or not the web traffic trying to gain access to your network should be allowed admittance. Firewalls can either be installed on your devices as software or connected to your devices as external hardware.

How can cybercriminals overcome a firewall?

Cybercriminals utilize many different techniques to get past a firewall. Below are just a couple examples of their many methods.

  • The firewall on an employee’s laptop has a set of rules that are either outdated, or not configured properly. A hacker exploits this error in the firewall and gains access to the device. The malware then gains access to your network through the VPN permissions on the laptop.
  • A hacker sends out a phishing email, which is disguised to look work-related. An employee opens the email and downloads what looks like a work-related attachment. What the employee actually downloads to the device is malware. Through this employee’s device, the malware accesses your network.

Once a cyber criminal finds a way onto your network, they are able to steal or destroy sensitive business and client information, encrypt and lock files which they then hold for ransom, or cause some other type of damage to your business, ranging from minimal to crippling.

How can I better protect my network?

The Layered Security approach utilizes several safeguards that each focus on specific areas of your network. By working in tandem, these layers of security provide a greater level of protection against cyber criminals that are attempting to breach a company’s network.

The Layered Security approach consists of the following measures that are implemented and maintained by IT security professionals:

  • Implementing a firewall with a properly configured set of rules
  • Keeping hardware and applications up to date with security practices
  • Employing anti-virus/anti-malware applications that will proactively disable recognized cyber-threats.
  • 24/7 monitoring, reporting, and auditing of firewall traffic to detect and remediate network security threats
  • Enabling Geo IP Blocking on your firewall to block web traffic from countries with known cybercriminal activity
  • Performing simulated cyber-attacks through penetration testing to uncover and fix existing security flaws
  • Managing your mobile devices to keep their stored information secure
  • Encrypting data so that it may be transferred securely
  • Social engineering training that teaches employees how to recognize and report possible network threats
  • Protecting your domain name from being copied or bought out from under you by cyber criminals

If you have any questions about the Layered Security approach and how it may protect your network, contact an Anders Technology advisor.

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