Why risk getting burned by a cyber breach? Top 5 considerations for firewall management

Firewall Management blog

Defending your organisation against cyber attacks can be an exhausting battle. Threats evolve on a daily basis, forcing you to constantly adapt in order to keep them at bay. This is easier said than done.

The role of your firewalls has transcended mere configuration. Today, they demand a holistic and proactive approach to ensure optimal security and performance. Keeping your firewalls secure means staying abreast of technological advancements, delivering constant changes, updates, patching and vigilantly monitoring your environments. The problem is that many IT departments simply don’t have the time, the resources or the expertise to juggle all of this alongside their other crucial responsibilities.

Fortunately, as the threats evolve, so do the solutions. Chris Ferbrache, Head of Services Solutions, at Daisy Corporate Services shares the five most important considerations to ensure the effectiveness of your firewalls:


1. Have the right technology in place

There are some great firewall tools on the market, such as Palo Alto Networks’ next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), which enhance business agility by using machine learning to anticipate emerging threats and neutralise them in real-time.

There’s also Cisco Secure Firewall, which facilitates seamless integration of their networking and security technologies so that your entire network can act as an extension of the NGFW. This integrates threat prevention capabilities into your existing network infrastructure.

Both of these examples include next-generation technologies, such as intrusion prevention systems (IPS), antimalware and URL filtering. Regardless of what firewalls you use, these elements at least are integral components of any robust firewall strategy.


2. Set up round-the-clock threat scanning and prepare a rapid response strategy

However, even when you have suitable technology in place, protecting your organisation isn’t a one-and-done process. Chris Ferbrache says: “When it comes to firewall management, organisations need to establish a culture of constant monitoring, with strategies in place to allow immediate responses to any anomalies or emerging threats. It’s important to acknowledge that managing your firewalls is an ongoing, proactive process.”

Monitoring your firewall environment need not be an arduous task. Yes, you will need to be available to respond when a threat is identified, but there are tools available to scan for anomalies and threats in real-time, alerting you to anything that gets flagged so you can take appropriate actions. You need to be ready to receive alerts as soon as they’re flagged and know exactly what to do in response. This means having a solid strategy in place for incident and problem resolution so that you can stop incoming threats before they escalate. This isn’t possible for every team, so you may need to outsource your monitoring or response if you can’t be available 24/7.


3. Have a plan in place to quickly repair or replace faulty hardware

Ferbrache added: “The most resilient organisations also have plans in place to quickly replace or repair hardware when the need arises. Even a short amount of downtime can be a huge risk when it comes to your firewalls, so having a contingency in place is essential.

“The main challenge with firewall management is that there are so many moving parts, it’s easy to overlook a single component that can mean exposing a vulnerability. Cyber attackers are always probing for these easy-to-miss weaknesses and so you need to stay on top of it.”


4. Schedule regular security health checks

The key to strong cyber security lies in mitigating the network security risks that you face from hackers. When security devices, such as firewalls, don’t receive the dedication they need, they become unpatched and weakened.

To avoid leaving potential vulnerabilities unnoticed and undefended, you’re also highly recommended to do regular health checks to ensure the configuration of your firewalls is still relevant and secure. Ideally this should be annual, semi-annual or quarterly, depending on your situation.

Security health checks can also have many other benefits such as:

  • Preventing costly cyber attacks from happening in the first place.
  • Exposing performance issues that are otherwise difficult to pinpoint.
  • This allows you to find a solution quickly before it becomes a problem.
  • Revealing additional functionality that your organisation can utilise.


5. Maintain the right skills

The impact of human expertise in cyber security cannot be overlooked either. Determining who should manage your firewall is a critical decision that directly impacts your network’s security and efficiency.

If you aren’t in a position to hire specialists in every relevant skill area, consider outsourcing to a Managed Service provider (MSP), to gain access to security-cleared engineers with industry accreditations giving you a strategic advantage.

These experts offer not just technical proficiency, but a relentless focus on keeping your business secure around the clock, ensuring that firewalls are continuously monitored, updated and optimised. Working with a MSP also frees up internal resource, all while leveraging the expertise of external specialists to maintain a robust defence against cyber threats. This empowers your in-house teams to concentrate on your core business functions.


Need a hand?

If you don’t have enough cybersecurity specialists on hand to be able to instantly respond to emerging threats and keep your systems patched and updated, we do, so let us know if you would like some help.

At Daisy, we monitor and manage more than 700 firewalls for our customers across the UK, from small branch firewalls to powerful data centre firewalls. We have many years of experience providing, installing, supporting and managing network security technology. We are a Palo Alto Innovator and Cisco Gold Partner and our engineers hold accreditations such as PCNSE and CCIE. Our Security Operations Centre (SOC) is UK-based and available on a 24/7 basis.

You can rely on us for:

  • Remote technical/security advice
  • Operational event monitoring/management
  • Incident resolution
  • Change implementation
  • Device patching
  • Quick hardware replacement when needed
  • IPS policy management
  • Security health checks

If you’d like to get some advice, or need some support, give us a call on 0344 863 3000 or email enquiry@daisyuk.tech

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