STAY AHEAD OF HACKERS: FIREWALL BEST PRACTICE GUIDE 101

Firewall Best Practice Guide

Firewall Best Practice Guide

Welcome to the world of cybersecurity!

Are you ready to become the ultimate guardian of your network and stay ahead of the hackers? Look no further, because this blog will be your go-to guide for all things firewall best practices.

Cyber attacks are on the rise, and with the abundance of personal and confidential information stored online, it’s more important than ever to make sure your network is properly protected.

But don’t stress, we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide.

From understanding the basics of firewall security, we’ll provide you with all the knowledge and tools necessary to fortify your network against malicious actors.

So, roll up your sleeves, and let’s dive into the exciting world of cyber security together!

What is a Firewall?

A firewall is a security system that controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on a set of predefined security rules. It acts as a barrier between a protected network and the outside world, blocking unauthorized access while allowing legitimate traffic to pass through.

Firewalls are important for security because they can prevent unauthorized access to a network, protect against malware and other malicious software, and help enforce compliance with security policies.

Additionally, firewalls can be configured to monitor and log network activity, providing an additional layer of visibility and forensic capabilities. They are crucial for protecting sensitive data and maintaining the integrity and availability of a company’s IT infrastructure.

Firewalls can be implemented in hardware, software, or a combination of both. They work by inspecting each incoming or outgoing packet of data and comparing it against a set of predefined security rules.

The rules are used to determine whether or not the packet should be allowed to pass through the firewall. If the packet is determined to be legitimate, it is allowed to pass through to its destination.

If the packet is determined to be malicious or unauthorized, it is blocked and not allowed to pass through.

Types of Firewalls 

There are several types of firewalls, including:

  • Network Firewalls: These are the most common type of firewall and are placed at the gateway of a network to protect all devices on the network. They are implemented in hardware or software and are used to control access to and from the network.
  • Host-based Firewalls: These firewalls are installed on individual devices, such as a computer or server, to protect them from unauthorized access. They are typically implemented in software and are used to control access to a specific device or host.
  • Application-based Firewalls: These firewalls are used to control access to specific applications or services, such as a web server or email server. They are used to control access to specific ports and protocols, and can also inspect and filter traffic at the application level.
  • Stateful Inspection Firewalls: This type of firewalls monitors the state of network connections to determine if packets are part of a legitimate conversation or not. It can also monitor the entire conversation and compare it to a set of predefined rules.
  • Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs): This type of firewalls include features from several types of firewalls such as network firewalls, intrusion prevention, and content filtering. They also provide the ability to inspect and control traffic at the application layer and include advanced features such as deep packet inspection and SSL/TLS decryption.
  • Proxy Firewalls: This type of firewalls acts as an intermediary between the internal network and external network. All traffic is routed through the firewall, which inspects and controls the traffic before forwarding it to the destination.
  • Cloud Firewalls: Cloud firewalls are software-based network devices that are set up and run in the cloud. They are made to stop or limit unauthorized access to private networks. The two kinds of cloud firewalls are: SaaS Firewalls are made to protect a company’s network and its users, just like a traditional hardware or software firewall that is installed on-premises. Next Generation Firewalls are cloud-based services that are meant to be set up in a virtual data center.

Best practice written on a tablet. A diary and a laptop nearby.

Firewall Best Practice Guide for Securing the Network

Using firewalls to protect an organization’s sensitive information and resources is an important part of securing the network. Here are some best practices for securing the network using firewalls:

1. Develop a Security Policy

This policy should outline the specific security requirements and acceptable use policies for the network. This policy should be used as a guide when configuring the firewall. It should include the types of traffic that should be allowed or denied, the ports that should be open or closed, and the types of devices that should be permitted to connect to the network.

2. Risk Assessment

Conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats in the network. This will help in creating firewall rules that will protect the network from potential attacks.

3. Network Segmentation

By breaking the network up into smaller pieces, you can limit how bad a security breach could be. This can be done by implementing VLANs, or virtual local area networks, which allow you to create isolated subnets for different departments or types of devices. This helps to prevent an attacker from moving laterally through the network and accessing sensitive data.

4. Default Deny Policy

When a “default deny” policy is put into place, all traffic is blocked unless it is specifically allowed. This can be accomplished by creating firewall rules that allow only the traffic that is necessary for the network to function. This is a more secure approach than a “default allow” policy, which allows all traffic unless it is explicitly blocked.

5. Multi-Layered Firewall

Using more than one security measure is more effective than just using one. Use a combination of different types of firewalls, such as network firewalls, host-based firewalls, and application firewalls. Each type of firewall has its own strengths and weaknesses, and using multiple layers of protection can provide an extra level of security.

Firewalls should also be used in conjunction with other security measures, such as intrusion detection and prevention systems, antivirus software, and encryption. This will provide multiple layers of security, making it more difficult for attackers to penetrate the network.

6. Limit Access to the Firewall

Access to the firewall should be restricted to authorized personnel only. This can be done by implementing strong authentication methods, such as two-factor authentication, or by using access control lists (ACLs) to limit access to specific IP addresses or networks.

7. Update Your Firewall

Keep Software Up-to-Date. Regularly update firewall and security software to ensure that the latest patches and updates are installed. This can help address known vulnerabilities and prevent attackers from exploiting them.

8. Logging and Monitoring

Regularly monitor and analyze firewall logs to detect and respond to security incidents. This means keeping track of all attempts to connect to the network and looking for anything strange or suspicious. In the event of a security incident, this will help a lot with troubleshooting and forensic analysis. This information can be used to identify security breaches, track the spread of malware, and help organizations to respond quickly to security incidents.

9. Testing and Validation

Regularly test the firewall configuration to ensure that it is functioning as intended and that all rules are accurate and effective. This can include performing penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and other types of security assessments. These tests will help organizations to identify any weaknesses in their firewall configuration and make any necessary changes to improve security.

10. Test Failover and Disaster Recovery

Firewalls should be tested to ensure that they can failover to a backup device or system in the event of a failure. This will help to ensure that the network remains protected even if the primary firewall fails.

11. Remote Access and VPN

Properly configure the firewall to support remote access and VPN connections. This helps to keep the network secure when employees are working remotely.

12. Employee Training

Regularly train employees on security best practices and policies to help prevent social engineering attacks, such as phishing scams, and to ensure that employees are aware of the risks and how to protect themselves.

13. Regular Review

Regularly review and update the firewall policies and configurations to ensure they are in line with the latest industry standards and guidelines. Also, ensure to review the firewall best practices guide and update it as necessary.

14. Incident Response

Have a clear incident response plan in place that includes procedures for identifying, responding to, and reporting security incidents, such as breaches, malware infections, and other types of threats.

15. Compliance

Ensure that the firewall policies and procedures align with industry standards and regulations, such as PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and NIST.

16. Document the Configuration

It’s important to document the rules, policies, and procedures. This will help make sure that the configuration is always the same, easy to understand, and easy to repeat. It will also help make sure that the firewall can be set up again quickly and easily if there is a problem or a security breach.

Untitled design 52 1

Best Practice for Firewall Rule Configuration

  • Implement a “default deny” policy, which blocks all incoming and outgoing traffic unless explicitly allowed.
  • Use security groups or access control lists to limit access to specific ports and IP addresses.
  • Use stateful inspection, rather than simple stateless filtering, to keep track of the state of network connections and dynamically adjust firewall rules.
  • Regularly review and update firewall rules to ensure they are still needed and correctly configured.
  • Use logging and monitoring to track attempts to access blocked ports and IP addresses, and use this information to fine-tune firewall rules.
  • Use network segmentation to separate different types of network traffic and limit the potential impact of a security breach.
  • Keep the firewall software and operating system up to date with the latest security patches.
  • Have a process for testing and validating firewall rule changes before deploying them to a production environment.
  • Have a regular security audit process to check the firewall rule configuration and identify any security vulnerabilities or misconfigurations.
  • Have a incident response plan in place for security breaches or to take action in case of a security incident.

Conclusion

In conclusion, firewalls are an important part of network security because they keep outside threats from getting into the internal network.

By following best practices, organizations can make sure that their firewalls are set up, maintained, and monitored correctly. This lets them block unauthorized access and suspicious activity while letting legitimate traffic flow through.

Keeping software and firmware up-to-date, configuring firewall rules for maximum security, checking firewall logs for suspicious activity, using the “least privilege” model for access, and using multiple layers of security can greatly reduce the risk of a security breach and help protect an organization’s sensitive information, reputation, and bottom line.

Additional Resources for Further Learning

  1. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework: https://www.nist.gov/cyberframework
  2. SANS Institute’s “20 Critical Security Controls for Effective Cyber Defense”: https://www.sans.org/critical-security-controls
  3. Center for Internet Security (CIS) Critical Security Controls: https://www.cisecurity.org/controls/
  4. OWASP Top 10 Project: https://owasp.org/www-project-top-ten/
  5. Cisco Firewall Security: https://www.cisco.com/site/uk/en/products/security/firewalls/index.html
  6. Juniper Firewall Security: https://www.juniper.net/gb/en/products/security.html

Ready to see how Cyber Security Services can help?

Whatever cyber security challenges you are facing, we have the expertise to assist you in addressing them.

Address

167-169 Great Portland Street, 5th Floor, London, W1W 5PF

Phone

(+44) 0203 488 4963

Subscribe now to receive our free PDF book

Expand your knowledge and stay up-to-date with the latest insights in the field of Cyber Security. Our free PDF book offers valuable information, practical tips, and best practices to help you navigate the complex world of cybersecurity threats and protect yourself online.
By subscribing, you'll gain access to exclusive content tailored to professionals, enthusiasts, and anyone interested in safeguarding their digital lives. Learn about the latest cyber threats, preventive measures, data protection, secure online practices, and much more.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to enhance your cybersecurity knowledge. Simply enter your email address in the subscription form on our website, and we'll send you the free PDF book right to your inbox. Stay informed, stay secure. Subscribe now to receive your copy!