5 Questions To Ask About Your Next Firewall

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Deciding on which firewall is the best fit for your company can be complicated. As a security tool that is constantly evolving, the features and functionality of firewalls are changing all the time. What should you look for to provide the best possible protection? How can you ensure the best bang for your buck? Here are five useful questions to get you on the right track to finding a great firewall solution.

What type of firewall is it?

Not all firewalls work the same way. For instance, there are packet filtering firewalls, proxy firewalls, and stateful inspection firewalls. The type of firewall offering the highest security and most control is the next-generation firewall (NGFW). One major differentiator with NGFWs is application control, which allows the firewall to not only identify ports, protocols, and IP addresses, but control them as well. This means that your firewall can actively compare traffic with application signatures and block them as necessary. For instance, a basic firewall may not be able to recognize and prevent malware quickly, but a NGFW can.  

What about offsite access?

For companies with multiple offices or remote workers, safe access to internal networks and applications needs to be available from different — perhaps any — locations. Whether your staff members are working inside your headquarters or on a laptop in a coffee shop across the country, your firewall should enforce the same standards. One way to ensure protection is to seek out a firewall with a built-in virtual private network (VPN). A VPN will encrypt all transmissions, even on a public network. It’ll also anonymize your IP address, providing privacy as well as security. VPNs can be implemented as a secondary add-on, but includng them as part of your firewall ensures total integration and cost effectiveness.

What kind of support is provided?

Choosing a firewall involves more than features and specifications; it also includes vetting a great partner that will provide the right support and service. A worthwhile firewall vendor will advise you regarding the best firewall setup for your company, and ensure your system is installed and configured properly. Your firewall should be updated automatically, and monitored around the clock. If you have a question or concern, there should be a simple method to contact certified engineers that can provide guidance based on advanced expertise.

How much visibility will I have?

Maximizing your ability to identify and analyze attacks depends on the reporting and monitoring capabilities offered by your firewall. Proper analytics provides intelligence that can be used to make smart decisions on all kinds of factors affecting your network. From network traffic to user productivity to threat exposure, more visibility through a firewall portal enables critical insight into threats, and assists in determining where immediate response may be required. In addition, advanced customizable reporting offers a way to look at attack patterns, review the effectiveness of acceptable use guidelines, and demonstrate policy compliance.

What kind of add-ons are included?

Some vendors offer basic firewalls with basic features and not much else. Others offer more comprehensive firewall packages that include additional security components. With basic firewalls, organizations often need to spend time and resources acquiring other pieces to enhance network security, which can be costly and problematic. Security components not included in a firewall package need to be managed and updated separately, and make a system unnecessarily complex—ultimately reducing effectiveness while increasing headaches. Look for firewalls that have antivirus, deep packet inspection, and web filtering included as part of the package.

Firewalls have become an essential tool for organizations looking to secure their network and guard their IT perimeter from malicious actors. Check out DartPoints’ next generation firewall here.

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