In our last article, we explained what a firewall is, how it works, its purpose, and when it should be implemented. Given the importance of having a firewall in place to protect your computer infrastructure, we would like to share additional information about firewalls.

Again, a firewall is your first protection against cyberattacks as it acts as a barrier by monitoring incoming traffic. A firewall controls what is granted permission to enter your system based on pre-established rules.

In this article, we talk about the following:

  • What must be considered when choosing a firewall
  • Types of firewalls
  • More tips for choosing a firewall

What must be considered when choosing a firewall
There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when deciding on which firewall is best suited for your organization which include:

  • Protection and Prevention are priorities
    An efficient firewall should be able to control and monitor the confidential data in your wireless network. A good firewall can enable you to limit incoming risks that gain entry to your system by granting access to only approved applications/websites/software.   Bonus: An efficient firewall can also reduce bandwidth consumption.
  • Devices could be tracked
    An efficient firewall tracks devices accessing your network instead of merely tracking IP addresses. A good one tracks by username.  Bonus: You can locate the devices that your employees or other people are using in connecting to your network. Through this, security and data breaches can be avoided because the devices can be tracked and wiped clean.
  • Different policies can be applied
    An efficient firewall allows you to apply different policies or pre-established rules to different end-users who are connected to your network. There are some employees or end-users who need to access certain sites in conjunction with their job and they might not be able to access these websites if there is no configuration of the pre-established rules.  Bonus: An advanced firewall can also limit the access of end-users to certain features of a website such as there could be a limit or a complete prohibition against uploading or downloading software programs or any attachments.
  • Advanced security infrastructure components
    An advanced firewall comes with more security components aside from controlling and monitoring traffic. These added security components include spam filtering, anti-virus protection, application filtering, and deep packet inspection.  Bonus: If you purchase a firewall with advanced security features, you do not need to invest in several, standalone security applications resulting in less to maintain and upgrade.
  • Cost-effective
    A good firewall is cost-effective especially when considering the potential costs of not having a firewall in place. Consider what is needed and what fits within your budget.  Bonus: The bonus is that you are prepared for significant data and security breaches that could cost even more. Data leaks, malware infections, and ransomware attacks are very expensive.

Types of firewalls
You have goals, end-users, and budgets to consider when it comes to choosing a firewall. Selecting the firewall that is best suited to meet your needs is important. Let us briefly talk about different firewalls that are available for you to consider:

  • Proxy Firewalls (Application-Level Gateways/Cloud Firewalls)
    A proxy firewall operates at the application layer. The firewall filters incoming traffic from the sources.

    • Features: The proxy firewall does not let traffic connect directly to your system rather it establishes a connection first and then inspects both the incoming data-layer packets and transmission control protocol (TCP) handshake protocol. A three-way handshake is used to create a socket connection to transmit data between devices or networks to make sure that the incoming data is from a legitimate source. It also performs deep-layer packet inspections. A proxy firewall also creates separation between the packet source and your network.
    • Drawback: Using a proxy firewall may cause your system to slowdown with the data transfer process.
  • Stateful Inspection Firewalls
    The stateful inspection firewall combines many processes mentioned in the features.

    • Features: This firewall combines the process of packet inspection and verification of TCP handshake. This combined processing technology provides greater protection for your system.
    • Drawbacks: This firewall usually slows down the transfer of approved packets because the processes put a strain on the computing resources.
  • Next-Generation Firewalls
    The next-generation firewall is known to be the “modern firewall” that provides more security features than the classic firewalls. Despite the hype, if this firewall is of interest, you should research this more to determine if it meets your goals and your budget.

    • Features: This firewall provides advanced security measures such as intrusion prevention systems (IPSs), deep-packet inspection, TCP handshake checks, and surface-level packet inspection.
    • Drawbacks: Because it is new to the market, there is not as much performance data available compared to firewalls that have been around longer.
  • Circuit-Level Gateway
    The circuit-level gateway firewall is a classic firewall with standard processing for data protection.

    • Features: The circuit-level gateway firewall works fast in approving or denying traffic without slowing down computing resources. This firewall performs the TCP handshake verification.
    • Drawbacks: Because it does not check packets, packets containing malware could pass through your system.
  • Packet-Filtering Firewalls
    The packet-filtering firewall is one of the classic firewalls on the market. The firewall creates a checkpoint at the traffic router and performs security checks of the data packets.

    • Features: The packet-filtering firewall inspects the information on the IP address, port number, packet types, and other surface-level information. It does not affect the system’s performance while it is performing security checks.
    • Drawbacks: It is easy for some malicious data packets to bypass the packet-filtering firewall because the firewall does not perform more extensive inspection processes.
  • Cloud Firewalls
    A cloud firewall is similar to proxy firewalls because it uses a cloud server when setting up.

    • Features: The cloud firewall is easy to scale within your organization. You can even add additional capacity to filter more traffic loads.
    • Drawbacks: The cloud firewall performs best within perimeter security.
  • Hardware Firewalls
    The hardware firewall comes as a physical appliance that is likened to a traffic router in intercepting data packets before they grant access to the network’s servers.

    • Features: This firewall blocks malicious data packets right away because it is intercepted before your network’s endpoints are exposed to risk as it excels in perimeter security.
    • Drawbacks: It is easy for insider attacks to bypass this firewall. Some hardware firewalls have limited capacity in handling simultaneous connections.
  • Software Firewalls
    The software firewall is installed inside a local device instead of being installed as a physical device or on a cloud server.

    • Features: The software firewall is efficient in protecting your network by isolating individual network endpoints from one another.
    • Hardware: The software firewall is challenging and time-consuming to maintain. Other disadvantages include the incompatibility of a network with a software firewall.

More tips for choosing a firewall
No matter what the features and disadvantages are for each type of firewall, you should consider your needs first when it comes to investing in one. Here are additional tips when choosing a firewall:

  • Consider the scale of your network. How many people are connecting to your network? If it is a larger number of people, then you will need a high-performing firewall to meet your needs.
  • Consider where your end-users are connecting from. Are they on-site or are they remote? If they are remote, you should use a cloud firewall over the others.
  • If there are fewer end-users and not much traffic, you can use a classic but still efficient firewall such as a software firewall.
  • The cost should always be considered. Even if other firewalls offer a lot of security features, you may not have a need for them. A classic firewall like a packet-filtering firewall might be sufficient for your needs.

Choose your firewall, choose your protection
Always consider your needs when investing in a firewall. When choosing a firewall, it is best to consider the scale, features, budget, etc. Investing in your computer network defense system against an attack is not just a wise decision but also a priority before anything else for peace of mind and protection.

If you want to learn more about our security software services, please reach out to Frank at [email protected] or call (847) 894-6304.