From network servers or the cloud, to the tiniest thumb drive or solid-state disk — every school, library or organization that stores data needs cybersecurity — without exception. No one is immune to the risk of cyberattack, but firewalls help ensure everyone is prepared. When weighing the complex technology, manpower needs and the current threat landscape, is it safer and more efficient to build your own firewall or purchase a managed hardware and software solution?
A firewall is a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic using predefined security rules. Think of it as your barrier between controlled and trusted internal networks and outside hostile environments, like the internet.
Firewalls can be configured by any capable IT professional, but it is always preferable to engage an expert who can tailor that configuration to suit your needs. This helps ensure that all configuration, setup, monitoring and support is taken care of in a timely manner. Building your own firewall may be cheaper in the short term, but the benefits of a cloud-based or external firewall service can outweigh building your own over the life cycle of a network.
When designing a firewall, it is critical that your organization, or your hired professionals, consider developing a security policy, using devices the way they were intended and implementation of a layered defense for the highest level of security.
Like many software systems, firewalls themselves have been migrating to the software-as-a service business model, which can incorporate implementation and upgrades to adapt to the threat landscape as part of a nominal ongoing cost.
When considering a firewall provider, some key features to look for include:
- Wireless support
- Intrusion prevention service (IPS)
- Web filtering
- Virtual private network (VPN)
- Technical support
- Internet connection support
For more information on the “Build Vs. Buy” firewall decision, read our in-depth white paper that offers information on the Five Basic Firewall Design Principles, case studies and more. Visit Merit.edu/ManagedFirewall.