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Why You Need Both Software and Hardware Firewalls

A firewall sounds like a pretty intense thing. However you may not have as much firewall protection as you need.

People may think that the antivirus and software firewall bundled with their internet security product is enough. This might not be true. To demonstrate this first we need to understand exactly what a software firewall does:

  • Regulates data through port numbers and applications.
  • Blocks incoming traffic from certain locations.
  • Recognises different computer programs, allowing data from one program and blocking another.
  • Blocks traffic that attempts to leave a device to access another device on your network.

All of which is useful, but there are drawbacks. A software firewall only works on the computer it is installed on on, so you’ll need to purchase several licences to protect multiple computers.

In order to protect against changing threats you’ll also need the knowledge to administer the firewall. And there are significant security threats from using a software firewall. Software firewalls are often viewed by cyber criminals as a soft target. They are easily accessible on the computers they look to exploit.

Improve Your Firewall Protection

In order to add further security many businesses use a hardware firewall in addition to a software one. A hardware firewall acts as a barrier around the perimeter of your office network. You can think of it as like a border guard, keeping an eye out for dangerous traffic. The firewall protects you from malware and cyber threats by inspecting incoming internet traffic.

Watchguard Firebox M200 Firewall, an example of a hardware firewall

Firewalls can be set up by IT experts to ensure only data that is safe passes through. This adds an additional layer of security to your office network, and protects your connected devices. Peripherals such as printers, telephone systems and other digital equipment don’t have software firewalls. They can be used as a ‘backdoor’ into your network.

By combining both software and hardware firewalls you protect both your local devices and all of the other devices on your network. The hardware firewall checks incoming and outgoing traffic from the internet. The software firewall secures what’s coming in or going out of the individual computer, and provides a further check of internet traffic.

Consider this: A hacker is trying to get into your network. The hacker will try several different ways to access your systems. Firstly, they will probably try a brute force attack on your perimeter defences. At the same time, they will also try a phishing attack. This involves sending an email, which aims to persuade a member of staff to click a link which will install malware. The brute force attack would be blocked by your hardware firewall. And ,even if a staff member clicks that link, the software firewall keeps the malware on that single computer – stopping it infecting the whole network.

Partner with a Firewall Expert

Correctly installed and configured software and hardware firewalls enable you to control:

  • how you staff connect to the internet;
  • what can be retrieved from the internet;
  • whether files can be sent out of the company via the network;
  • which devices can be accessed, and from what locations they can be accessed.

The correct expertise is needed to install and configure both software and hardware firewalls. Threats change on a daily basis, so firewalls must be updated regularly and managed correctly.

Correctly configured firewalls add protection, but they have to be set up properly. This requires someone with the expertise to avoid compatibility issues, or you may find your firewalls blocking legitimate data.

How we can help with Software and Hardware Firewalls

We understand what firewall rules mean, how to work with them and, most importantly how to react when alerts are received.

At Your IT Department we supply and configure hardware and software firewalls to protect our clients networks. Our Watchguard trained engineers ensure that firewalls are set up correctly to offer the right level of protection for your business. Our firewall solutions are fully managed. They are kept updated with the very latest virus definitions, with alerts monitored and reacted to immediately to ensure the highest possible levels of protection.

If you would like to find out more about how a correctly configured firewall can help your business we’ve produced this handy video.

Bonus! FREE eBook & FREE Cyber Security Assessment

We offer a FREE cyber security assessment. Find out if your business needs one with our eBook ‘Does Your Business Need A Cyber Security Assessment