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Security solutions - Firewalling

Firewalls and unified threat management

Network security is critical as we are seeing more reports of cyber-attacks on businesses of all sizes, so we all know this is an issue that cannot be ignored. Firewalls have been a first line of defence in IT security for more than 30 years, with unified threat management solutions becoming more popular in recent years.  

Why do businesses need a next-generation firewall?

A next-generation firewall (NGFW) establishes a barrier between secured and controlled internal networks, which can be trusted, and untrusted external networks, such as the internet. The aim is to protect your corporate network from unauthorised access leading to unwanted disruption and downtime by filtering all inbound and outbound network traffic for malicious content.

Our next generation firewalls, from Cisco and Sophos, analyse network traffic up to and including layer 7 to ensure access control policies are enforced to prioritise your critical traffic. By classifying traffic at layer 7, these firewalls control evasive, encrypted and peer-to-peer applications, like BitTorrent or Skype, that cannot be controlled by traditional types of firewall.

Unified management threat solutions

One type of network IT cyber security system will not be enough if you truly want to protect your business. You will need to layer multiple solutions to offer the best protection against a variety of threats. An advanced protection solution is like having multiple walls surrounding a building rather than relying on a single entrance to deter intrusion. If an attack breaches the perimeter defence, then there are still others in place.

Unified threat management (UTM) solutions represent these multiple defences. They rely on similar technologies, such as advanced malware protection (AMP) and sandboxing solutions, to defend against different types of attack from a single platform to reduce complexity and management headaches. Fast detection of a security breach is critical and automation of security tasks following a breach are equally as important so ensure your firewall have the capabilities to support this remediation.

Unified management threat features

Intrusion detection system (IDS)

An IDS identifies possible IT security threats attacks rather than preventing them. IDS tools sit outside the network and review copies of incoming data to compare them to a library of known threats to guard against policy violations, information leaks, configuration errors, unauthorised clients, servers and applications, plus viruses and Trojan-horse attacks. An IDS cannot take direct action against threats but send an alert to the network administrator.

Intrusion prevention systems (IPS) 

An IPS sits behind the firewall to check all incoming traffic for potential threats using pre-defined security policies. These are updated daily, so your cyber-security always provides protection against the latest threats. You use a web-based dashboard for management of your own IPS and UTM security threat protection levels. 

Data loss prevention (DLP)

Whether intentionally malicious or inadvertent, data loss can diminish your brand and reputation, but many businesses neither monitor nor control outgoing electronic communications, therefore risking confidential information falling into the wrong hands. An intelligent DLP solution provides content, context, and destination knowledge and controls who can send what information, where, and how.

Cloud security

Cloud security solutions analyse data to identify patterns, detect anomalies and create models to predict if a domain or IP is malicious. It uses the internet’s infrastructure - domain name system (DNS) - to block malicious destinations before a connection is ever established to prevent threats, such as malware and ransomware, reaching your endpoints or network.

Frequently asked questions

1. What is the difference between a firewall and a next-generation firewall?

Traditional firewalls check traffic coming in and out of corporate networks, using port and protocol details, plus destination and source addresses. Next-generation firewalls offer a wider range of security layers, such as integrated IDS and IPS, ability to block apps, and deep-packet inspection.

2. What is the difference between a next-generation firewall and unified threat management? 

An NGFW suits an organisation that wishes to customise their own security policies and reporting, while a UTM appliance provides out-of-the-box policies, management and reporting tools. If you do not have the expertise or resource for a NGFW, then UTM imight be a good fit for you. 

3. What is advance malware protection?

Advanced anti-malware protection (AMP) continuously analyses file activity across your network, so you can quickly detect, contain, and remove advanced malware. AMP can prevent zero-day (previously unseen) attacks and ransomware by stopping processes, automatically restoring files that were encrypted, and quarantining files.

4. What is sandboxing?

A sandbox is an isolated environment on a network that mimics end-user operating environments. They are used to safely execute suspicious code without risking harm to the host device or network. What happens in the sandbox, stays in the sandbox to avoiding system failures and keeping software vulnerabilities from spreading.

Useful Resources

>Ransomware reminder for UK business in 2022

>Spending too much time on IT support and not enough on business strategy?

>Borchure: Cyber security

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