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Why Your Business Needs a Firewall

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The Internet has permeated all aspects of daily life, and in business it’s no different. These days it’s difficult to think of a company that doesn’t utilise the Internet, at least in some capacity. But, as with any innovation, Internet use brings with it a series of risks and any computer lacking sufficient protection is potentially vulnerable. 

We’re here to help you get your head around the nasties lurking out there on the World Wide Web, and the importance of protecting your network with an effective firewall. Just as you wouldn’t leave the front door to your office open, it’s critical you secure private data and intellectual property with an effective firewall.

So, what is a firewall and how does it work? One way to look at a firewall is kind of like customs at an international airport. A firewall is tasked with keeping track of all traffic, in this case everything travelling between your business’s network and the entire Internet, by adhering to strict directives regarding what is and isn’t allowed. When properly configured, a firewall can be used to block unauthorised communication between your computer and the outside world, screening activity and ensuring only authorised traffic is let through. Firewalls can also be used to prompt administrations when unauthorised, malicious software is attempting to access your network.

On a basic level, there are two types of firewall systems – hardware firewalls and software firewalls.

A hardware firewall is kind of like a drawbridge. It’s a piece of hardware that’s separate to the rest of your network, providing a funnel for all the information going in and out. One of the advantages of this system is that one piece of hardware can be used to protect every device on your network, making hardware firewalls an excellent, time-saving option for businesses after a basic level of security. 

Software firewalls work a little bit differently. Rather than acting as a blanket that covers an entire network, software firewalls are installed onto individual computers enabling administrators to customise the level of protection between users. This is a great way for your administrator to reinforce potential weak points in your network, and ensure users with higher security needs can attain the level of protection they require. It’s also a great way to ensure users who aren’t being as productive as they could be, are doing their work (i.e. by blocking YouTube and Facebook).

So why are firewalls so important? Well, consider the amount of personal data you’re storing on your computer network at the moment. Phone numbers, email addresses, credit card details, bank account details, and confidential files – if any of this information were to find its way into the wrong hands, it would wreak havoc on your business. But if you don’t have a secure firewall system in place, all of this information is vulnerable. You’re effectively storing this information in a cardboard box on the pavement outside your office – anyone can get at it!

Hackers, criminals, even unscrupulous competitors wouldn’t hesitate in taking advantage of any weakness in your security setup. And it’s not just your personal data that’s at risk. Malware is a huge menace and can cause a variety of disruptions on unprotected networks, including exploiting hardware and bandwidth, unwanted popups, diverting browsers to illicit material, spamming inboxes with advertising, and just slowing down your connection in general.    

This is why an effective firewall system is so important for businesses in 2015. Only with a proper system of protections in place can you be confident that your network is secure from the nasties lurking on the Internet, and a firewall provides a great cornerstone for your overall protection strategy. Firewalls provide you with a sense of peace of mind, helping you gain complete control over all traffic coming in and out of your network. Administrators can use firewalls to identify and block unauthorised communication so you can be sure that your important business-critical data is safe.

An added bonus is firewalls can help grant you a greater sense of control over the Internet use of your employees. The Internet can make a lot of processes in a business more efficient, but it also provides a huge potential distraction for employees. With an effective firewall in place you can nip this problem in the bud, and make sure your workers are using your facilities for work.

Now more than ever it’s important to make sure your network is secure from malicious programs, files, viruses and criminal users that are lurking on the Internet. But if you adopt a proactive approach these threats can be easily dealt with. Take action and install a proper firewall system on your computer network today, so you don’t have to worry about the consequences tomorrow.

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