Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do Firewalls still have a Future in IT?

Since 1992, Firewalls in a variety of forms, have protected our networks. Their ability to keep unwanted viruses and activities at bay has needed to evolve rapidly in line with the constant evolution of security threats. The question is whether they are still capable of doing what we need of them and indeed whether they have a place in the future of IT.

 [Gary Simpson] Networks and computers - or in today's tech speak 'devices' (as these can include tablets, smartphones and laptops, as well as the good old desktop computer) need something resilient and reliable to protect them from the increasing threats that are ever present through the internet.

As work styles and communication becomes more mobile and data access and storage more diversified,

additional challenges in managing data security have become present and it is in the face of changing modern tech requirements that we ask the question 'Is there still a place for the Firewall in IT'? Before we answer that question however, let's look at what a firewall does for you.

What does the Firewall actually do?

The firewall is intended to protect your network and data from unwanted threats. All threats can be seen as breaches to security. These security threats include:
  1. Malicious software (viruses, or malware, bots, botnets, spyware, trojans etc.) that may corrupt files and software functionality
  2. Unauthorised access to sensitive company data, or phishing
  3. The distribution of viruses or malware (even if inadvertent) through email or file sharing
  4. The use of resources such as memory, data storage or bandwidth
To provide more detailed information regarding the types of firewalls available, and what a firewall is meant to do, I have compiled a Firewall Datasheet which will provide the information you need.
Download it here.

Evolving to a Unified Approach

Modes of network attack continue to evolve and so a simple firewall that protects only the perimeter of a network is no longer sufficient.

Thankfully most firewall manufacturers and developers now offer a consolidated approach to security.
Known as 'UTM', or Unified Threat Management, firewalls typically now manage all threats using a single solution.  This single solution is made up of several different technologies which have been programmed to work together more successfully to combat networking threats.

This unified approach continues to be upgraded and the latest improved versions of the UTM - now known as 'Next Generation Firewalls' of NGFW's have been released.

Instead of utilizing a separate engine or service for each technology - all technologies have with the NGFW's, now been unified under one single engine thereby streamlining the scanning process.

Far from becoming obsolete - the unified approach is most certainly the way forward and has secured the future of firewalls in IT. By ensuring that hardware and software firewalling technologies integrate seamlessly, service providers are creating a virtually impenetrable wall that hackers will be hard-pressed to cross.

Central to the Security Strategy

The firewall really is the cornerstone upon which a security strategy is built. Although it is often overlooked - the firewall really does remain core security technology.

To protect your network, data and devices, the firewall needs to integrate all mobile devices, desktop devices, as well as physical and virtual data storage and data sharing.

The challenge is therefore to pinpoint which firewalling service will serve your needs best. Each business operates differently and has unique challenges, so a 'one size fits all' approach is certainly not the answer here.

For advice and assistance in either choosing the most suitable firewall solution for your business, or should you need input into the development of a Security Strategy - give MMC a call. We're here to help you manage your IT so that you can get on with driving the success of your business.

Established in 1991, MMC provides organisations within the small to medium business sector with a variety of flexible, outsourced IT services. With solid implementation experience across a wide range of leading IT products, we provide robust, reliable solutions that are tailored specifically to the individual needs of our clients.


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