If branch offices have CCTV cameras and guards for physical security, firewalls are an integral part of any network infrastructure that acts as a barrier against malicious activities and online attackers. They contain a set of security rules and policies that determine which inbound traffic to allow and which should be blocked. Without a strong firewall system, it’s hard to guarantee the security of your company’s network, computers, and data.
So what is firewall management and how is it done? Firewall management is the practice of configuring and monitoring network firewall settings to ensure robust security against cyber threats. A company’s IT team and security administrators are usually the ones who take care of managing the firewall. It usually involves defining the security rules and protocols, tracking changes, monitoring logs, and conducting regular audits.
What Is Firewall Management and Why Your Business Needs It
Thanks to the Internet, companies are more connected now than ever. Sharing and exchanging information has become easier through emails and cloud servers where everything can be stored and sent. However, it can also be tricky to rely on online networks especially when there are cybercriminals and hackers lurking in the digital environment.
For this reason, businesses need a firewall for their peace of mind that all their computers and networks are safe and secure. There are many different types of firewalls but modern next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) offer extensive network protection and security components that can help identify, prevent, and resolve threats.
Here are some of the top advantages of having a firewall:
- Monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic to filter potential threats and spam
- Reviews the identity of users and examines the integrity of the files and documents
- Notifies about any existing malicious activity within the network and blocks them immediately
- Strengthens your security defenses against common threats like phishing and social engineering
- Ensures safe and protected web browsing by reviewing the sites that you are accessing
- Prevents hackers from infiltrating and stealing personal information and sensitive data
Basics of Managing A Firewall
Firewall management is a fundamental practice to assure that you set the right rules and protocols according to your unique security requirements. Managing a firewall is usually performed by the IT staff, security managers, and network admins. Here are some of the important elements of firewall management:
1) Create a standard firewall change management plan
As online attackers become more advanced and sophisticated with their tactics, your firewalls should also be regularly updated to maintain their security capabilities. For this reason, you should have a centralized firewall management plan to help monitor any changes or configurations that are done to the network. This works similar to an audit trail where you can review any unwanted changes and check if any unauthorized users had access to the firewall.
Some of the components that a firewall change management plan should have:
- Detailed objectives and enumeration of changes that are made to the plan
- Possible risks of policy and rule changes
- Mitigation plan or solutions to the potential risks
- Logs of who made the changes and when it was configured
2) Test the new firewall settings before network-wide implementation
After making updates or modifications to your firewall policies, it’s important to test how well it performs against possible intruders. You can recreate an online attack or check for vulnerabilities by building a test environment that simulates your network’s systems. If any weaknesses show during the test process, you can further fine-tune your firewall configuration to make sure it’s secure before going live.
3) Establish and clean up firewall rule base
A firewall rule base generally refers to the standard set of regulations about what kind of traffic is allowed and blocked by the firewall. It’s important to always check the rule base to maintain peak performance and efficiency of the firewall. Some reminders in optimizing the firewall rules include:
- Remove expired, unused, or shadowed rules
- Avoid conflicting rules that may make create vulnerabilities such as hidden backdoor points
- Review and revise incorrect rules to avoid network system failures
- Divide long rule sections to make it easier to understand and process
4) Review user access logs and schedule regular audits
When setting up a firewall, you should only assign configuration access to trusted and authorized members of the team. From time to time, you can review access logs to check if there have been any suspicious changes done by an unverified user that exists outside the network.
It’s also important to perform regular firewall audits to assure good cybersecurity posture and maintain compliance with industry regulations and network security guidelines. Audits should be done in the following situations:
- You’ve configured most of the settings in your network firewall
- You’ve updated or installed the latest firewall firmware
- There’s an ongoing firewall migration within the network systems
Common Mistakes In Firewall Management
The risk of cyberattacks is increased with poor firewall configuration or undefined security rules and protocols. To avoid leaving your network susceptible to threats and viruses, here are other mistakes that you need to avoid when managing a firewall:
- Lack of clearly defined rules, parameters, and policies
- Using open policy configuration that allows many users to access the firewall
- Failure to track changes and monitor user access logs
- Not updating the firewall hardware
- Inadequate security and user authentication such as allowing the use of weak passwords
Why Choose Abacus For Managed Firewall Services
If you don’t have enough human resources to establish an IT team, you can outsource managed firewall services from a third-party provider such as Abacus. Abacus has an experienced team of cybersecurity experts who can provide comprehensive firewall solutions to keep your network infrastructure safe and minimize the impact of security risks on your daily operations.
Other benefits of having Abacus IT managed services include:
- Round-the-clock support for firewall management – If you encounter any issues with firewall configuration or management, you can always call Abacus’s expert support staff. They can lend their knowledge and expertise in helping you resolve your issues right away.
- Customized security plans according to your unique needs – Abacus offers tailored security solutions that can address specific gaps in your network. They can also provide recommendations on which type of firewall is the best for your organization.
- Regular threats and vulnerabilities assessment – Proactive threat and vulnerability management is the goal of Abacus. They can perform regular system monitoring and risk assessments to address issues before they escalate to a serious problem.
- Up-to-date security systems – Abacus offers a multi-layered approach to cybersecurity and this includes constant security patching to solidify your network’s defenses from external threats.
Secure Your Network With Abacus Managed IT Services
Managing a firewall is essential to ensure optimal protection for your organization’s network. At Abacus, you can count on our expert IT engineers and managers to be your partner in strengthening your security capabilities.
For more than 15 years, we’ve helped countless businesses across different industries with customizable security solutions, consulting, systems integration, and strategic planning to assure the efficiency of their operations. Contact us now to learn more about our suite of business IT services.