The 3 Most Common Firewall Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them

How certain are you that your business’s data is secure? Although cyber theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America, less than 50% of businesses are prepared to properly defend themselves in the event of an attack.

Make sure your business isn’t vulnerable. Check that you’re not guilty of committing one of the three most common firewall mistakes—putting your business and your customers at risk.

Mistake #1: There is no firewall in place

Whether your company is a Fortune 500 or a small start-up, it’s crucial that you have a firewall system in place to protect your network. According to research by the Ponemon Institute, 61% of small and medium-sized businesses experienced a cyber attack in 2017—up 6% from the previous year. With hackers getting craftier every day, it’s likely that the risk of threat will only increase through 2018.

To protect your business, it’s best to install both software and hardware-based firewalls. Software firewalls are like the lock on a door: they protect an individual user’s local hard drive by prohibiting risky activities, and stop suspicious applications from gaining data.

However, to maximize network protection, you’ll need a hardware-based firewall as well. Where software firewalls are comparable to a lock, hardware firewalls are a wall: they analyze each information packet that attempts to access your router, and ensure it meets your defined policy configurations before gaining entrance to your network.

Mistake #2: Your firewall is misconfigured

According to Gartner research, 95% of all firewall breaches are the result of misconfiguration. That’s a shocking statistic, but the problem can be easily remedied.

While firewalls are often set up with broad access configurations, it’s best practice to follow the principle of “less is more.” That means to increase security, permit users in your network the least data privileges necessary to perform normal tasks. While this may cause some roadblocks at first—after all, it can be hard to account for each individual user’s needs—it’s far better to permit privileges later than to create security vulnerabilities from the get-go.

In addition to data privileges, make sure that your network administrator configures static routing, as opposed to a dynamic routing protocol. This is generally considered the most secure option for SMBs.

Mistake #3: Your authentication is too vulnerable

It’s cyber security 101: if a hacker can figure out a network user’s authentication information, they can easily pass through your firewall. That’s why IT managers often require users to change their passwords every 45 to 90 days. Unfortunately, research shows that when users change their passwords that frequently, authentication is more easy to hack.

So what’s the best way to make authentication more secure? Only require users to change their password every 6 months to a year—and when the time comes, rely on password managers that can generate continuously strong logins.

Firewalls are your first line of defense in the fight against cyber crime, and avoiding these three common mistakes will prevent your business from becoming an easy target.

If you need help choosing the best cyber security system for your company, let the firewall experts at Guard Depot guide you in the right direction. Our network firewalls and accessories can help keep your business secure, without slowing you down. To find out more, get in touch today.