Firewalls are one of the most common network security measures used by modern businesses. These tools help to protect businesses by inspecting and filtering traffic on the network—allowing legitimate requests through while blocking dangerous traffic. At their most basic, most cybersecurity strategies employ at least one firewall at their “perimeter,” or the connection points between the company’s network and the rest of the internet.
While incredibly useful, firewalls can be circumvented by exploiting vulnerabilities. Firewall vulnerabilities can allow attackers to bypass these network security tools and compromise systems for their personal gain.
Knowing how to identify firewall vulnerabilities and apply effective firewall management strategies is critical to keeping business networks safe from attackers. What is firewall management? How can you spot firewall vulnerabilities? More importantly, how can you eliminate firewall vulnerabilities?
Here’s a quick explanation of how to identify firewall vulnerabilities and manage them efficiently.
How to Identify Firewall Vulnerabilities
Firewall vulnerabilities come in many forms. For example, some vulnerabilities may be caused by mistakes in the firewall’s configuration or upkeep, while others may be because of specific flaws in the firewall’s method of operation. This can make finding firewall vulnerabilities challenging because not all vulnerabilities may be easily identified with the same testing methods.
Fortunately, there are many tools for helping organizations identify different vulnerabilities. TechTarget highlighted that: “Numerous open source tools (many of which can be found in penetration testing tools Backtrack or Kali) are available that allow operators to scan network devices for open ports, OS versions and obvious vulnerabilities.” Using these kinds of tools can help to identify glaring vulnerabilities in a firewall—the kinds that most need patching since they’re the most likely to be targeted by attackers.
However, simply having a vulnerability testing tool (or a suite of them) does not guarantee that all firewall vulnerabilities will be found. To completely identify firewall vulnerabilities, it’s important to have:
- One (or more) experienced cybersecurity experts who specialize in firewall management;
- A comprehensive testing plan; and
- A thorough understanding of the entire network architecture.
The last bullet is especially important, as without a complete map of the network architecture, it’s easy to miss a potential access point—which creates a firewall vulnerability in the form of a network node that isn’t protected by any firewalls.
Can Managed Security Improve Firewall Management?
Most businesses don’t have the resources to put together a full team of network security experts specializing in firewalls to secure their networks. Finding and onboarding a dedicated cybersecurity engineer is prohibitively expensive and time-consuming because of the high demand for such experts. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for security analysts is expected to be 28% from 2016-2026—several times the average job growth rate of 7%!
To bolster their firewall management without having to go through the difficulty and expense of hiring cybersecurity experts in-house, many businesses opt to use a managed security service provider (MSSP). How can managed security improve firewall management? A few ways include:
- Reducing Costs for Network Security Management. Hiring an MSSP to find and fix firewall vulnerabilities is often much less expensive than acquiring and onboarding an in-house team of experts for the same task. This helps to reduce cybersecurity expenditures, freeing up room in the budget for other needs.
- Bringing Instant Firewall Management Expertise. Finding and recruiting new employees takes time—especially when looking for a high-demand role such as a network security analyst. With a managed security service provider, companies get near-instant access to professionals who have extensive experience in handling firewall vulnerability management and a slew of other cybersecurity issues.
- Cross Pollination of Knowledge. MSSPs work with many companies that use different firewall tools. Because of this depth of experience, they may be able to identify and fix issues that their other customers have encountered in the past. This allows the MSSP to diagnose and fix common problems quickly—as well as a few less common ones that the average in-house team that only ever works with one system might not be aware of.
In addition to testing firewall configurations and identifying potential weaknesses therein, MSSPs often offer general penetration testing and vulnerability management services that can close other security gaps not directly related to the firewall.
Do you need help with firewall management and vulnerability testing? Reach out to the experts at Compuquip to get started!
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