Firewalls are a critical form of network security that protects companies against cyberthreats by tracking the network’s access points and providing a configurable barrier between the internal network, applications, databases, and users and external traffic.
See below to learn all about the ways firewalls can benefit companies:
Network traffic monitoring
Standing at the edge of the network, firewalls are able to constantly monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic, scanning and filtering out for possible intrusions or communication attempts from unverified parties.
You can configure firewall software to filter out traffic that meets specific criteria, depending on the security and privacy requirements of the network admins.
Network access control
Firewalls offer network access control (NAC) capabilities that improve the security of your network and allow for visibility into the network in real-time. NAC enables network admins to restrict access and availability of network resources to set endpoint devices as well as the outside websites, ports, and IP addresses.
Access control enables admins to limit or cut out-of-network internet access to user accounts and endpoint devices that aren’t deemed necessary to access.
Application control is an advanced feature that’s usually available in most next-generation firewalls, enabling them to monitor and control network traffic that’s directed toward applications within the network.
By limiting the number of applications running on system devices within the network from freely communicating with the open internet, firewalls with application control features can greatly lower the risk of data leaks and malware.
Network analysis and diagnosis
Through continuous traffic monitoring, firewalls are able to perform advanced network analysis to help network admins better understand the condition and health of their network.
Using the regular and rapid analysis and diagnosis of network traffic, a firewall can help you determine the impact of issues on the network security, tracing them back to their origin inside or outside the network.
Further, network analysis can be used to determine the origin of attempted or successful cyberattacks, data leaks, or any malicious activity that was detected by the firewall or other network security solutions.
See more: How Firewalls are Used by Deakin University, Black Box, Palo Alto Networks, Modis, and Keysight: Case Studies
Malicious code protection
As an endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution, a firewall doesn’t only protect against malicious activity coming through an internet connection, it’s also able to prevent malicious software from accessing the primary network directly through one of the network’s devices.
Since malicious code can vary in origin and the type of damage it can inflict, advanced firewalls often block suspicious activity, flagging it for further investigation, even if the malicious entity wasn’t directly detected.
Network bandwidth control
While controlling the network’s bandwidth is needed to lower the risks of network bottleneck and optimize system performance, controlling it is a way to prevent the unauthorized upload of massive amounts of data to the internet or an outside server.
By setting a limit to the average network bandwidth, a malicious activity that relies on leaking large amounts of data or downloading it into the network to clog it can be more easily detected through a firewall.
See more: Different Types of Firewalls
What cyberthreats does a firewall defend against?
When it comes to specific types of attacks, as an EDR, firewalls are designed to detect and intercept a number of attacks that might threaten your network’s security:
By monitoring and managing outgoing network traffic, firewalls are able to prevent data leaks. It can be set to automatically block unauthorized traffic of massive amounts of data leaving the network during data leaks, whether due to the malicious work of an insider attack or through malware.
Depending on the set configurations of the firewall, data loss can be prevented entirely or minimized as outgoing files are scanned before they’re allowed outside the parameters of the network.
While firewalls don’t directly prevent the different types of malware from accessing your network, constantly monitoring and filtering incoming traffic based on the validity of the source allows them to minimize the chances of a malware infection.
Next-generation firewall software that uses machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in their threat detection is more accurate at detecting incoming traffic that may contain malware.
Hacks and unauthorized access
A firewall is the first line of defense against hackers and malicious individuals looking to gain unauthorized access to your network.
Through the integration of various technologies, such as ML and AI and sandboxing, firewalls are able to validate the source of traffic against a database of known threats or a behavioral profile of suspicious activity possible hackers are likely to display.
Encrypted threats and zero-day attacks
Advanced next-generation firewalls are capable of detecting and intercepting encrypted threats consisting of malware, ransomware, spear phishing, and data exfiltration, by blacklisting untrusted data sources and behavioral analysis before and during the attempted attack.
A firewall’s ability to detect and prevent a zero-day attack depends on the level of intelligence behind it and whether its behavioral analysis and pattern recognition are advanced enough to discern the early signs of one.
See more: What is a Firewall? Definition & Ultimate Guide to Getting Started