How to Choose a Firewall For Your Business Network

The internet has opened a world of possibilities for small businesses. It’s now possible for companies to connect with customers around the world at a fraction of what it used to cost. Along with the tremendous advantages of the digital age, the internet has also ushered in its share of challenges.

Small businesses are frequent victims of cybercrime. Most often, you can hear of attacks of big corporations like Capital One and Equifax. But small enterprises are the most common target for criminals.

And the cost of these attacks is rising each year—now averaging between $80,000-150,000. Organizations, both big and small, can’t afford these costs. It’s time to start focusing on IT cybersecurity. Beginning with a reliable firewall is an excellent start. Read on to learn what you need to know about choosing the right one for your business network.

What are Firewalls?

Firewalls are one of the most basic levels of IT protection. They can both be physical hardware devices or software tools. Both analyze incoming traffic and block or allow items accordingly. But the way they do so varies.

Begin by outlining your cybersecurity goals. Firewalls can offer these features:

  • Website restrictions based on content or URL name
  • Social media, video streaming, and illicit content blocking
  • Internet restrictions based on time/amount of use
  • Protection of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices
  • Blocking unauthorized access to network connection
  • Creating alerts when users access the network
  • Enhancing web-based cybersecurity
  • Blocking hackers from connecting to IoT Devices

Can I Run Many Firewalls at The Same Time?

The average software firewalls can cost less than $100. So, it’s natural to wonder if you can run many firewalls to cover all those uses. While it may be technically feasible, it will cause practical issues. Firewalls work by creating rules. Operating several at the same time causes conflicts that can harm network performance.

It’s better to focus on critical areas and then use other tools to address different needs. There are a few additional recommendations to create comprehensive security at the end of this article.

Hardware vs. Software Firewalls

Hardware firewalls are physical devices you install on your organization network, usually between the router and broadband modem. These firewalls protected all connected devices on the network, limiting the data they receive and transmit. It makes them useful for IoT devices like security cameras. They also cover devices on which you’re unable to install apps directly.

Meanwhile, software firewalls work on the device-level. They offer more flexibility and allow you to customize content and accessibility. These are better for restricting web content and data exchanges.  But you can’t use them to block unauthorized devices for accessing your organization network. So they’re quite useless on IoT devices.

How to Choose Between a Software and Hardware Firewall

Choosing between a software or hardware firewall can be challenging. Do you need different levels of security for each device? Then select a software firewall. Do you need to protect IoT devices? Then a hardware firewall may be a better choice. Trying to block unauthorized network access? Select a hardware firewall. Want to block specific web content?  Go with a software firewall.

Essential Firewalls Functions

Whether a hardware or software firewall is better suited for you depends on your organization’s needs. Regardless, both should perform these vital functions:

  • Facilitate secure access. The information flow inside your business must stay confidential. The firewall needs secure methods of communication.
  • Flag suspicious activity. Network admins take time to respond to unauthorized access or another issue. Automatic systems should quarantine potentially dangerous threats immediately.
  • Network Traffic filtration. Many browsers now hide HTTPS traffic making identity verification difficult. Firewalls need to still sift between the wrong and right kinds of traffic.
  • Correcting vulnerabilities as they arise. New vulnerabilities emerge all the time. Firewalls must be able to identify them and create protection recommendations.

Beyond the Firewall: VPNs

Firewalls do a good job protecting local assets. But businesses move to a cloud-centric approach and rely more on virtual machines. So it is also vital to secure offsite resources. This is where VPNs come in.

Enterprise-grade VPNs provide advanced support designed explicitly for organization needs. Team members can connect to company servers from any location, preventing the risk of cyber-attack. They create global protection needed to work in the cloud era safely. Between the right firewall and VPN, it’s possible to prevent costly cyber-attacks and protect your organization’s valuable data.