Managed Firewalls

The firewall has been the signature device of IT security for decades.  Firewalls typically provide the only layer of protection against external threats  to an internal network whether it be a corporation, university, or  a home.  A properly configured firewall is an effective countermeasure to the hoards of hackers and criminals that patrol the Internet in search of vulnerable computers that they can exploit and gain unauthorized access to.  Unfortunately, you cannot simply “set and forget” a firewall and expect it to continue to provide the same level of protection in the future.

Protecting your IT Infrastructure is a constantly evolving battle.  New hardware and software vulnerabilities are found every day.  The tools and methods used by hackers are getting better and becoming more widespread as well.  Trying to keep up with the constant change can be overwhelming to a business.  A new trend in managed firewalls is emerging for those who have found it too cumbersome and expensive to try to stay 1 step ahead of the bad guys.  Keep reading to see if it makes sense for you to deploy a managed firewall as well.

What is a managed firewall?

A managed firewall is simply a firewall that is managed by a 3rd party organization.  It can be thought of as outsourced firewall administration.  The firewall device physically resides on the customer’s network however the setup and administration is usually performed solely by the managed firewall provider.

Why use a managed firewall?

Managed firewalls make a lot of sense if your organization lacks the personnel or skills required to adequately maintain a firewall.  Firewalls require a great deal of administration. Besides the frequent updates to their software and firmware they also produce reams of logs which are usually difficult to interpret.  A dedicated IT Security Professional is normally required to analyze the logs to find events like intrusion attempts and denial of service attacks while safely ignoring the large amounts of noise typically found.  These skills are in high demand and are therefore expensive to keep on a company’s payroll.  Hiring a managed firewall provider to maintain an organization’s firewalls can often reduce costs by allowing a reduction in IT headcount.  This is especially true in smaller organizations.

In addition to cutting costs, switching to a managed firewall may also increase the protection level by minimizing vulnerabilities caused by misconfigured firewall rules.  Many studies have shown that the top cause of networks being penetrated is a hole created by some sort of misconfiguration.  Often, firewall administration is assigned as an additional duty to someone on an IT team.  If this person gets overloaded in their primary duty or lacks the required aptitude to properly maintain the firewall, configuration errors can occur which can lead to the network being compromised.  With a managed firewall service you can be assured that only trained firewall specialists will be working on your firewall.