Firewalls, sometimes also known as network security devices, are a critical component of any company’s cybersecurity strategy. A solid set of internal firewalls on a network has the ability to block malicious traffic and decelerate the breakout speed of attacks that originate from within the network. However, to achieve optimal results from a firewall deployment, it is necessary for the firewall to be managed effectively.
Unfortunately, firewall management is not an easy task. It comes with many different challenges that must be overcome to build strong network security. The first step to tackling these challenges is to know and understand them. Having a profound understanding of major firewall management challenges can be the difference between a successful investment or an increased risk of falling victim to cyber threats. Read on as we discuss the biggest firewall management challenges facing many businesses today and the appropriate management strategies.
1. Choosing the right firewall solutions
Choosing the most appropriate firewall that addresses a company’s needs is a common challenge for many businesses. There are plenty of firewall solutions to choose from, from the basic packet-filtering solutions to the more advanced next-generation firewalls that offer additional features, such as intricate rule management tools and intrusion prevention systems.
Most of the time, companies are tempted to opt for the highest-level option to receive the most protection from cyber-attacks. However, this may not always be the best choice. The more features a firewall has, the more processing will be demanded, and this can affect the overall performance of a network. Moreover, the simple replacement of a legacy firewall with a next-generation alternative of the same scope can result in future problems. Thus, in selecting a firewall, a company must always consider its needs.
2. Ensuring proper configurations
When a company has settled on a firewall, ensuring that it is configured properly is essential. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that will be ideal for all users and applications, so IT teams should make sure that features, such as application controls, bandwidth prioritisation, and network segmentation, are applied correctly to various parts of the network.
The more features a firewall has, the more complicated this process will be and the longer it will take. Therefore, to prevent the deployment from spiralling out of control, it is important to establish formal policies that detail what applications, protocols, services, and networks are to be allowed through the firewall. This may then be referred to as the entirety of the setup process.
3. Effectively updating the firewall
Once the firewall has been installed and is operating, it is necessary to ensure that it is not neglected. New cyber threats emerge from time to time, so firewalls require regular updates to close vulnerabilities and keep definitions of hostile traffic up-to-date. However, it is fairly easy to overlook these activities since IT departments are usually busy and have numerous other priorities. Because of this, it is highly advised for companies to set a regular schedule for the re-evaluation and updating of the firewall.
Companies can choose to outsource IT support to get the job done efficiently. Moreover, when evaluating and updating firewalls, it is necessary for one to ensure that they have a complete understanding of the impact any changes will bring. Some of the most crucial questions to ask include:
- Is this update going to break any application or other network connections?
- Will this update introduce any new vulnerabilities that will require prompt solutions?
- How will the change impact performance?
4. Keeping up with policies and rules
Regular updates need to be about more than re-evaluating policies and rulesets to react to new circumstances. A company should consider this as an opportunity to assess its existing policies to determine whether or not they are still effective. If all an IT department does is simply add rules to their firewall solutions, they are likely to end up with a system that has numerous potentially contradictory policies, which can decline performance and even lead to new vulnerabilities.
Thus, taking the time to analyse and optimise rulesets is an absolute necessity. This is where efficient firewall management tools can prove quite beneficial. These IT solutions can provide a company with the visibility that it needs to identify which rules can be removed and what the implications of changing or eliminating a rule will be.
Firewalls offer many different benefits, but they also pose some challenges that may impact a company’s network security and performance. Firewalls are often complicated to configure to manage, and misconfiguration errors or mismanagement can result in compliance violations or security breaches. Therefore, it is important for companies to plan their firewall architecture and policies carefully in order to overcome the challenges that usually come with adopting firewall solutions.
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