Firewalls provide front-line defense against network intrusion

The costs of security breaches to American businesses are enormous. Intellectual property is the number one target. In fact, the FBI estimates that all intellectual property theft costs US businesses more than $300 billion each year.

So, what’s a business to do?

According to 2013 U.S. State of Cybercrime Survey, firewalls were considered the most effective way to protect a computer system from threats. A firewall is your first line of defense against unwanted intrusions like viruses, worms and malware. It may be the single most important technology for protecting critical information and keeping unwanted intruders out of your system.

Firewalls protect network infrastructure from internal and external threats by blocking data from certain locations or applications while allowing relevant and necessary data to come through. There are two types of firewalls – hardware and software. Hardware firewalls, commonly referred to as network firewalls, are external devices positioned between your computer and the Internet (or other network connection). Software firewalls control specific network behavior of individual applications on a system.

Hardware-based firewalls are particularly useful for protecting multiple computers and control the network activity that attempts to pass through them. The advantage of hardware-based firewalls is that they are separate devices running their own operating systems, so they provide an additional line of defense against attacks. Most operating systems include a built-in software firewall feature that should be enabled for added protection even if you have an external firewall. Relying on a software firewall alone provides some protection but having the firewall on the same computer as the information you’re trying to protect may hinder the firewall’s ability to detect and stop malicious activity. This is especially true if your computer is already compromised by malware.

Thwarting both external and internal threats to your business’s critical information is where effective firewall protection at all points of access becomes extremely important. A best practice has been developed to deploy firewalls not only at an organization’s network perimeter, but also inside the business at key locations to protect information from unauthorized employees.

Examples of perimeters established inside a company’s local area network (LAN) are between departments with different functions, between switches and back-end servers, and where the company’s wireless LAN meets its wired network. That ensures that information can be partitioned inside the company to protect it from employees to which company policy says it is off limits.

Firewalls along with advanced perimeter controls are the most common tools deployed to thwart network intrusions. Firewalls can also be placed on mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptop computers.

Bottom line: the most effective first step you can take to protect your network is by turning on a firewall.

Need help with firewall deployment at your business? Dobson Technologies can help. We provide firewall deployment along with antivirus scans and updates are part of our managed IT service offering. We also provide system patches, event log review, remediation, daily antivirus signature checks and spyware scans and removal, among many other system protection services.


2013 U.S. State of Cybercrime Survey by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, co-sponsored by the Software Engineering Institute, CERT® Program at Carnegie Mellon University, CSO Magazine, and the United States Secret Service.

2013 Cost of Cybercrime Survey conducted by the Poneman Institute and sponsored by HP Enterprise Security.

Understanding Firewalls by U.S.-CERT.