Firewall is one of the old and preferred cybersecurity tool used to date for protection of your network from prying eyes. A firewall is the first line of defence and acts as a gatekeeper for your system while communicating with other devices over the Internet.
If left unmanaged, Firewalls can leave vulnerable points in your network open for snooping hackers and malicious attackers to get a hold of your system. While there is no panacea for hundred percent security mechanism, the following best firewall practices will help to protect your system from potential cyber-attacks.
Now, let’s just cut to the chase and begin with our best practices for efficiently configuring and maintaining firewalls.
Here are some useful Firewall Practices you must follow:
1. Configure your Firewall
Most individuals and companies make the massive mistake of taking the installed firewalls for granted. Your firewall is not a plug and play device which will work just fine for you if it works for your friend. Every server and business has different security needs and potential risks.
Configuring your firewall for the best solution is essential. The firewall lets you create Access control lists (ACL). In layman terms, it allows you to specify websites or IP addresses in a blacklist, whitelist or to block them entirely.
Creating your ACL lists will help establish rules and strengthen your control over the network. It is fundamental to configure your firewall and give it power by creating adequate laws to prevent malicious data entry into your system.
2. Update your Firewall
Over time established rules can become outdated and need to be modified. When you update your firewall, it is essential to understand the complex world of security first. Make it a regular practice to review the firewall policies at regular intervals and update or modify the rules as and when required.
3. Documentation and Log Keeping
If you have a business organization with more than one system administrators, there may be a chance they have written two different policies for the same scenario. Keeping a log file of all the plans and identifying the source of existing problems.
Firewalls documentation should include what you did in the past and what is being done now to keep everyone on the same page. Additionally, it offers an accurate and factual information about how the network is set up and which roles, responsibilities are held by each group.
Further, proper documentation helps to identify varying needs of the business and create policies by essential and potential services in the organization.
4. Disable All Unnecessary Ports
Disable everything that doesn’t serve a purpose to your system and the overall network. It is often a good practice to open only those ports that the clients and servers require to communicate with another network or over the Internet.
It is especially crucial after the hackers have found a new way to inject malware like ransomware on the vulnerable systems by using open ports. To make a point, WannaCry Ransomware Malware spread on a large-scale in a short while due to the SMB port vulnerability exploit in Windows.
SMB port is an old port which we do not use nowadays, and still, people enable it on many Windows OS leading to the massive catastrophic cyber-attack that affected PCs in around 150 countries.
5. Monitor and Establish Control
Whether you have a small organization or a large enterprise, it is important to realize that things are ever-changing. Similarly, it is hugely recommended to monitor firewall rules and review them every six months to seal any open cracks and choke points in your network.
Log Management is another important feature that plays a fundamental role in monitoring firewall security. Potential breaches can be detected and controlled with the help of an event log that will alert the network administrator if there is any malicious activity.
6. Backup your Firewall
Backup of your firewall is an integral part of crisis management plan. Before you update any policies or re-configure your firewall, it is advised to take a backup of existing rules and configuration. In case any problem arises, you’ll be able to revert to the last configuration plan.
It is also an essential step for disaster recovery which will help to restore your Cybersecurity plan in minimal time.
7. Optimize your Firewall
Firewall re-configuration can sometimes lead to a lower throughput and higher CPU usage on your network. In such a scenario, it becomes essential to optimize your firewall for the adequate performance of your system.
Few practices include removal of overlapping rules and filtering any unwanted traffic that can hamper the effectiveness of the system.
Firewalls are the first but not the only defence mechanism against malware attacks. The primary function of it is to prevent the suspicious traffic from entering your system. However, recent malware creators are finding new ways to infect your system and firewall is just not enough for total cybersecurity.
If you want to protect your system from unknown attacks and malware ultimately, you should go for layered security approach. This approach involves installing a firewall, antivirus, and antimalware like MalwareFox which can remove all harmful and suspicious files in less than 5 minutes providing Zero-day coverage for your network.