The answer to this question is “no” if you’re relying on a firewall alone. A firewall isn’t enough to stop today’s sophisticated attacks – and these attacks are increasing daily. Plus, small businesses are in hackers’ crosshairs because most aren’t using the security solutions that they should.

Educated business owners know for the best data security today they need:

  • A Next-Generation Firewall,
  • A Web-Application Firewall,
  • An Intrusion Detection System (IDS),
  • A Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS),
  • An Intrusion Protection System (IPS),
  • A Network-based Intrusion Prevention System (NIPS), and
  • Endpoint Security.

Your Technology Solutions Provider can set these up for you.

What is a Firewall?

Other than your employees (who must be trained in cybersecurity), a firewall is your first line of defense for keeping your information safe. A firewall is a particular type of solution that maintains the security of your network. It blocks unauthorized users from gaining access to your data. Firewalls are deployed via hardware, software, or a combination of the two. Many businesses also employ data encryption for an extra layer of security.

A firewall inspects and filters incoming and outgoing data in the following ways.

  • With Packet Filtering that filters incoming and outgoing data and accepts or rejects it depending on your predefined rules.
  • Via an Application Gateway that applies security to applications like Telnet (a software program that can access remote computers and terminals over the Internet, or a TCP/IP computer network) and File Transfer Protocol Servers.
  • By using a Circuit-Level Gateway when a connection such as a Transmission Control Protocol is made, and small pieces called packets are transported.
  • With Proxy Servers: Proxy servers mask your true network address and capture every message that enters or leaves your network.
  • Using Stateful Inspection or Dynamic Packet Filtering to compare a packet’s critical data parts. These are compared to a trusted information database to decide if the information is authorized.

Next-Generation Firewalls

These are hardware or software solutions used to detect and block complicated attacks. They enforce strict security measures at the port, protocol and application levels. Next-generation firewalls can detect application-specific attacks (traditional firewalls can’t). Therefore, they have the ability to prevent more malicious intrusions.

Next-Generation Firewalls perform a more in-depth inspection than standard firewalls. They perform inspections of state and active directories, virtual private networks and packet filtering. They also come with additional features like active directory integration support, SSH, and SSL inspection, as well as malware reputation-based filtering

Next-Generation Firewalls provide:

  • Everything and more than standard firewalls.
  • The ability to identify undesirable encrypted applications.
  • Prevention against network intrusions.
  • Intelligence in improving blocking decisions
  • Intrusion prevention.
  • A baseline for deviations from normal application behaviors.

Web-Application Firewalls (WAF)

A web application firewall can be a standalone hardware device or a cloud/software-based solution. It resides between your web servers and the Internet. It can be customized to accept and reject specific HTTP requests and sessions. This protects your web application servers from attacks that originate on the Internet.

A WAF filters and inspects every incoming and outgoing message. It scans and stops malicious messages and protects you from threats like:

  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that try to overwhelm your server.
  • SQL injection attacks try to inject SQL commands into your database via a website interface in an attempt to steal stored database information, including usernames and passwords.
  • XPath injection attacks that exploit your applications that are used to construct queries based on user inputs.

Intrusion Detection System (IDS)

An IDS automatically alerts you when something (or someone) is trying to steal your data using malicious attacks or by breaching IT vulnerabilities. It monitors your network 24/7 and checks the integrity of files, analyses patterns, and compares them to known attacks. Plus, it scans the Internet to find the latest threats.

The components of an Intrusion Detection System include:

  • A Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS). This analyses traffic on an entire subnet, a separate portion of your network such as a local area network (LAN) and compares it to known attacks.
  • A Network Node Intrusion Detection System (NNIDS). This is much like the NIDS above, but it only monitors a single host.
  • A Host Intrusion Detection System (HIDS) that takes a snapshot of your entire system and compares it to previous snapshots.

Intrusion Protection System (IPS)

An IPS monitors your network for malicious activities. It identifies suspicious activity and logs this information to block and report the activity. It can be used via hardware or software. An Intrusion Protection System is like an Intrusion Detection System except that it actively blocks and prevents any intrusions it detects.

Network-based Intrusion Prevention System (NIPS)

A NIPS monitors your network and protects its confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Its main functions include protecting the network from threats, such as denial of service (DoS) and unauthorized usage.

It sets up physical security zones and uses intelligence to quickly discern the good traffic from the bad. It captures malicious threats like Trojans, worms, and viruses so they can’t spread throughout your network. The Network-based Intrusion Prevention System evolved from the intrusion detection system. But unlike an IDS, it works in real-time.

Don’t forget about Endpoint Security.

Along with all the above, you need to protect your endpoints with an antivirus, antispyware solution. A good one can detect real-time malicious activity and compares it via behavioral monitoring. Endpoint security is installed on your endpoint devices and network devices. It monitors their status and activities.

Some also employ user device authentication. When your employees log in to a device, it validates their credentials and scans the device to ensure compliance with your corporate policies. If the device doesn’t comply, the user may be granted limited access or locked out entirely.

Is Your Firewall Capable of Stopping Even the Most Sophisticated Cyber Attacks?

It is as long as you leverage all these solutions in the proper manner. It’s best to consult with your Technology Solutions Provider (who some call a Managed Service Provider) to make sure you’re protected from today’s ever-evolving threats.