In IT parlance, a firewall is part of a suite of intrusion protection systems designed to protect users from outside entities that could breach the network—and potentially cause just as much damage as an actual blaze.
Most modern operating systems come with a built-in firewall. However, when you’re dealing with sensitive information, such as credit card payments or trade secrets, you’ll want something a little more robust to keep out hackers and lookie-loos.
If your company is adding employees and data processing capabilities—which can raise additional concerns—you’ll want to consider these tips to keep your private information private:
Upgrade to—and properly configure—a hardware firewall
A dedicated hardware firewall doesn’t have to share resources with a PC. Just remember to configure the rulebase and change the default username and password. A vast number of breaches occur because default settings never were updated. Pick a complex password: Use a minimum of eight characters, avoid dictionary words and toss in a number or a symbol. Or you can choose a particular phrase, and make your password the first letter of each word. (For example, that last sentence would create a password of “Oyccappamyptfloew.” No one’s going to guess that).
Ensure your firewall software isn’t out of date or obsolete
All hardware firewalls have firmware, which acts like an operating system. When flaws are found, the manufacturer will release patches and updates. Get them.
Confirm logging is enabled
Yeah, you have to do some configuration and eat up some storage with logs. But the ability to go back and trace the source of an attempted intrusion might just save your bacon.
Record all rules and procedures
If employees leave, new employees may struggle to understand your system. Hire a tech writer to interview your staff and document your protection policies and solutions.
Remember that more employees mean more intranet and internet use
Realize that the more usage you allow, the riskier (and less productive) your internet traffic will be. To mitigate concerns, set good policies and restrict potentially troublesome apps. Configure a proxy server, for example, to block bit torrents and streaming video.
Safeguard against mobile device vulnerabilities
Mobile devices can improve productivity, but they also present problems. If a device is stolen, sensitive information such as data or passwords can end up in the wrong hands. BYOD policies may create issues if employees connect to secure in-office Wi-Fi with an unencrypted device.
Using a remote desktop solution can help diminish both threats. You’ll have one secure login method to access resources in the cloud, with none of the data stored locally. That way, if a phone is lost or stolen, there won’t be anything on it that could compromise security.
If the above steps sound too complicated, you always can look at managed security. Contracting a company of experts who can handle your security needs may be a more operationally efficient approach—and will help ensure firewall password changes and other security system maintenance procedures are handled on a regular basis.