Why firewalls aren’t enough, and what else you need to protect your network

Why firewalls aren’t enough, and what else you need to protect your network

Firewalls first came about in the late 80s as the digital analogue to a fireproof barrier used in building construction. Ever since then, they’ve served as central components in any cybersecurity infrastructure. By monitoring all incoming network traffic in real time, they’re designed to keep your network safe from malicious connections such as unauthorized access attempts.

The most common firewalls, such as the consumer-grade ones included with every installation of Windows, are software-based. However, enterprise-grade firewalls are sometimes hardware-based. These dedicated systems sit between your network and the outside world and, because they reside in separate hardware, they’re inherently more secure.

There’s no denying that a firewall remains an essential tool to have in your security arsenal, but they’re not the be all and end all. Without other solutions to back them up as part of a multi-layered cybersecurity infrastructure, they’re simply not enough to protect your business from the growing multitude of threats out there. Here are five other things you need to safeguard your organization:

Intrusion detection and prevention

Firewalls are often confused with intrusion detection and preventions systems (IDS and IPS, respectively). Although the line can be blurry when it comes to technological capability, each component has a slightly different role to play. While firewalls keep malicious traffic out based on its source, an IDS flags suspicious activities in incoming traffic. An IPS, meanwhile, proactively blocks incoming traffic that the system considers suspicious. With all three solutions combined, it's much easier to stop a wide range of network threats.

Antivirus software

Cybersecurity experts are always quick to emphasize the importance of proactive measures like intrusion detection and prevention, but antivirus software, which is primarily a reactive measure, is still important. Although it typically doesn’t come into play until a computer or other device has already been infected, antivirus software should mitigate the damage caused by threats that make it past your network. If it uses heuristic scanning, a feature that detects suspicious system behavior, rather than relying on a security database to detect known malicious programs, antivirus can be an effective defense mechanism.

Patch management

Reputable hardware and software manufacturers are committed to providing regular security updates for any products they still support. Microsoft, for instance, typically releases critical security updates every second Tuesday of the month, and these must be installed to keep your operating system running smoothly. Regularly patching all your systems as soon as security updates become available is essential for protecting them from new threats, such as zero-day exploits. If, however, a product is no longer supported, you should stop using it immediately. Since there won’t be any more security patches pushed out to it, this can expose the system to various risks.

Round-the-clock monitoring

Hackers don't exactly stick to a nine-till-five routine. So even if your business isn't open around the clock, your cybersecurity systems need to function 24/7/365, no matter what. External network monitoring services allow you to outsource security so you can rest easy knowing that there’s always someone watching over your network. Round-the-clock monitoring is one of the most basic services that managed services providers offer, and it often comes with additional features like intrusion detection and prevention, firewalls, and antivirus.

Ongoing employee training

Usually, the biggest threat to your data comes from within, whether it’s malicious or poorly trained employees. Human error is behind most data breaches, ransomware attacks and other threats.

That’s because today’s cybercriminals often don’t rely on vulnerabilities in technology itself — they rely on social-engineering tactics designed to dupe unsuspecting users into taking a desired action. Whether that’s giving away login or payment information or downloading malicious software, your employees need to be ready for anything. That’s why ongoing awareness training is one of the most important cybersecurity measures of all.

SinglePoint Global provides organizations with the tools and expertise they need to thrive in an increasingly challenging technology environment. Call us today if you’re ready to experience that difference.