Find out what a managed firewall service offers and how it can benefit SME organisations
What does a firewall do?
A firewall is your IT system’s first line of defence against intruders. Designed to keep hackers, malware and other threats at bay, a firewall detects and blocks malicious or suspicious traffic at the edge of your network before it can cause harm. ‘Good’ traffic filters through, but your applications, files and data are protected against unauthorised users, dangerous protocols and known cyber-attacks – not to mention the potential effects on business continuity, company assets and brand reputation.
Unlike locally-installed anti-virus software, a firewall protects all devices that are connected to the network – an important consideration in today’s increasingly mobile workplace. It adds an extra layer of safety by:
- preventing employees from unwittingly downloading hidden viruses whilst browsing online;
- scanning all file downloads;
- protecting against ‘insider activity’, such as staff emailing sensitive data to themselves, visiting suspect websites or trying to run file-sharing software that opens up their computer to intruders; and
- logging suspicious, harmful or unproductive employee activity.
Every organisation that accesses the internet needs firewall protection – as well as someone to set it up, monitor it, upgrade it and analyse the logs in the case of an incident. Without a firewall, its child’s play for hackers to access your systems, steal confidential data and harm your business integrity.
Why should I consider a managed firewall service?
The increasing threat to cyber security is a constant challenge for businesses of all sizes. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated, more severe and more numerous by the day – so it is no longer enough to install anti-virus software on your PCs and then sit back and relax. Virus definitions change rapidly; new worms, viruses and malware emerge; and websites designed to trick users into sharing information are uncovered frequently. The effects of an attack or infiltration can seriously impact employee productivity, breach customer confidentiality and damage commercial relationships – all of which put your brand and reputation at risk. It is impossible to stop these threats, so it is up to every business to protect itself.
Unfortunately, the cost and complexity of protection is growing: in order to cope with a rapidly changing landscape, firewalls must be maintained and upgraded on a continual basis and security patches applied regularly. This is time consuming and requires dedicated resource, but an in-house team of highly trained IT security experts doesn’t make financial sense for most SMEs. A managed firewall service is a good way for small businesses to ensure that their business assets are fully protected without investing heavily in equipment, staff and software.
Managed firewall services provide that sought-after team of experts – with all the necessary training, certifications and experience – to do the hard work for you. They take care of providing, installing and deploying security protocols, and deal with hardware replacements, firmware revisions and applying the latest security patches when they are required. Hardware, software, licenses, configuration, policy creation, maintenance, support and ongoing management are all included as part of the service and some packages include add-ons like spam trackers, anti-virus, anti-spyware and web filtering.
Managed firewalls offer more protection than a premise-based solution alone, so companies that have already invested in on-site firewall technology can usually choose a service-only option, tailored to fit and enhance their existing set-up. A partially managed model allows day-to-day firewall management to be carried out in-house, but offers additional support and expertise as and when it is required.
What are the benefits of a managed firewall service for my business?
The benefits of a managed firewall service for a small business can be grouped into five areas:
With a managed firewall service there are some significant up-front savings. There is no need to buy or maintain the appropriate hardware, nor is there a reason to employ, train and certify staff to focus purely on IT security. Another big draw is the predictability that a managed service provides. Fees are usually paid monthly and there are no subscription upgrades or license renewals to factor in.
2. Peace of Mind
With a managed service and robust SLA, you can rest assured that your firewall is always online and up to date with the latest software definitions and block criteria. With constant, 24/7/365 monitoring, any potential threats are detected, identified and resolved before they impact on system health, network availability and business operations.
If you’ve ever called on the services of an IT consultant you’ll know that staff in this industry are expensive. With a managed service you’ll get access to a team of trained and certified security experts as part and parcel of your contract. Their experience in configuring and managing firewalls, keeping them up to date, troubleshooting and resolving issues will be invaluable from day one – and they may even help you to define and implement a company security policy from scratch.
Do you know how many threats there have been to your network recently? With a managed firewall service, your provider will use detailed reporting to keep you in the loop with the number and frequency of security alerts, what caused them and where there are weaknesses in your system’s defences. Some can also help you analyse bandwidth usage down to workstation level, giving you a real insight into how your employees spend their time.
Without the distraction, expense or complexity of an in-house security solution, you and your team can concentrate on what’s important. A more secure network means increased uptime and fewer interruptions to hinder productivity, and IT managers are also freed up to work on business-critical or value-adding projects rather than housekeeping.
With a managed firewall service, SMEs are fully equipped to meet current and future security challenges head on.
If you’d like to know more about how your business could benefit from an expert approach, get in touch or call us on 0345 557 6100.