Choose the Best Firewall Protection for Your Business

Firewalls are vital to protecting your business network. What is a firewall & why is it essential for cybersecurity? Learn how to determine the best firewall protection for your business.


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Business Firewalls Explained

Cyberattacks happen more and more frequently as time goes on. As a result, it’s never been more critical to secure your business’s systems and devices. If your organization isn’t running a network firewall, it’s not secure.

A firewall is a network security device that is positioned between your internal network and the rest of the internet. It monitors all incoming and outgoing data and assesses it based on predetermined security settings. If a malicious chunk of data, or “packet,” is detected, the firewall can block it before it enters your network and causes harm.

In short, firewall protection is essential when it comes to safeguarding your company’s internal network. It secures every part of your organization that operates on an internet connection—this includes your email accounts, applications, cloud infrastructure, and more.

How does a firewall work?

Think of a business firewall as a security guard who has set up camp right outside your company's network. This guard has knowledge of millions of potential criminals and if one of those criminals tries to gain entry, the firewall will keep them out.

Firewalls can operate at a hardware level, software level, or both. A hardware firewall will inspect each packet to determine if it should be allowed to enter your network. If it’s allowed in, a software firewall can further filter that information to look for malicious activity.

A firewall will be placed on every device within your organization that connects to the internet. Then, rules can be set to determine which devices have what type of permissions. Data that is allowed through one computer might be blocked on another. By determining which users and devices can receive certain types of information, you can mitigate the risk of a cyberattack.

Think of firewalls as your company’s first line of defense against cyberattacks. Through packet filtering, a proxy service, stateful inspection, and other methods, firewalls keep out unwanted traffic and only permit safe, legitimate information.

Types of business firewalls

Business firewalls can be sorted into various categories based on how they operate. Each type of firewall has a unique structure and functions in its own way. Whether you need a small business firewall or an enterprise firewall, the fact remains that data security should be your number-one priority.

Learn about the different types of business firewalls to determine the best firewall system for your organization.

Stateful inspection firewall

A stateful inspection firewall blocks or allows traffic based on port, state, or protocol. This type of firewall doesn’t look at each individual packet of data. Instead, it compares certain parts of that packet to a database of known and trusted information.

To get this information, a stateful inspection firewall examines the information that travels from inside your network to outside. It then takes that data and compares it against the packets coming in. If the incoming information is similar to the outgoing data, it’s allowed in. If not, the firewall blocks it.

By using both administrator-determined rules and the context from previous data transmission, stateful inspection firewalls can prevent harmful packets from entering your network. This type of firewall requires a lot of computing resources, though, so it may decrease the performance of your devices.

Next-generation firewall (NGFW)

Next-generation firewalls, or NGFWs, are designed to surpass the limitations set by traditional firewalls while also adding some valuable and much-needed security features.

There is no solid definition of what makes up a NGFW, so if you’re looking at this type of firewall for your business, be sure to look closely at the features to make sure you’re getting the protection you need. Here are some of the features you may notice when choosing a next-gen firewall:

  • Transmission control protocol (TCP) handshake. The firewall examines the source of the data, but not the contents.
  • Surface-level packet inspection. The firewall will look at things like the packet type, IP address of origin, and port number for each incoming packet.
  • Deep-packet inspection. The firewall will examine the actual contents of each incoming packet.

Other common features of NGFW include encrypted traffic, zero-day and machine learning (ML) protection, and cloud sandbox technology.

You can think of next-generation firewalls as a more all-inclusive type of network protection. They take security a step further than traditional firewalls. For example, while original firewalls rely on IP addresses to recognize threats, NGFWs can identify users and user roles.

Proxy firewall

This type of firewall is also known as an application-level gateway firewall, and it’s delivered via a cloud-based solution. In a proxy firewall, information from the internet is collected by the firewall and then sent to the requesting system.

First, the proxy firewall establishes a connection to the traffic source, and then it examines the incoming data. It may examine the actual contents of the packet to verify that it contains no malicious activity. After the check, if the packet is approved, the proxy sends it through.

A huge benefit of a proxy firewall is that it allows for an extra layer of protection between the packet’s location of origin and the devices on your network. The downside, though, is that the extra steps in the data transfer process can slow down performance.

Unified threat management (UTM) firewall

A unified threat management (UTM) firewall combines the functionalities of a stateful inspection firewall with intrusion prevention and network antivirus. It might also include additional services and cloud management.

In a UTM firewall, multiple security features are consolidated into a single device or service within your network. This differs from traditional cybersecurity solutions, where there are multiple points of protection for each function.

UTM firewalls are simple, easy to use, and do not impact the performance of devices on your network.

Leverage your firewall with MDR, Managed Detection and Response

Many organizations lack the cybersecurity skills, automation, and resources to keep up with today’s rapidly evolving cyber threats. As a result, they turn to Managed Detection and Response.

Sophos Managed Detection and Response goes beyond traditional managed detection and response (MDR). Other MDR services only notify you of suspicious events—they don’t manage those threats. Sophos MDR, on the other hand, provides your organization with an elite team of threat hunters and response experts who work 24/7 to neutralize all threats, no matter how sophisticated

Are you ready to back your organization by a highly trained team of threat hunters and response experts? Get your customized, no-obligation quote today.