If you grew up around the time when the internet was coming of age thanks to the advent of graphical web browsers, you probably know that going online is an activity that should only be done with an updated antivirus software and an active firewall. For a long time, the firewall/antivirus combination was pretty much all you needed in order to stay safe when using the internet at home or at work.
In the world of information security, times change faster than you expect, which is why the aforementioned AV and firewall combination is no longer sufficient, particularly for business owners. Even though these two solutions are still required, you probably do not hear them being mentioned as much as they used to be, but this is because cyber security vendors are marketing their products differently these days.
When it comes to security solutions for personal computing, firewalls are increasingly being bundled into security suites. These software packages, which are mostly available on a subscription basis, typically include a firewall along with antivirus scanner, browser plugins, password lockers, phishing protection, and other security features.
Firewalls come in software, firmware, hardware, and cloud versions; the kind you should use depends on the level of internet safety you require. For personal computing purposes, you can trust the firewalls provided by the operating system vendor. In the case of Microsoft Windows, the Windows Defender suite will be fine on a personal level, but not necessarily for business use.
At SynchroNet, we have set up what is called honeypot endpoints, which are computing devices connected to the internet without firewalls or other security solutions. In just a few hours, the hard drive of the honeypot computer had ballooned to 13 GB of malware. This is because hackers are constantly running port scanning sessions that check for open ports they can exploit; once they find a way in, they can do everything from remote code execution to storing illegal software and files for other hackers to download.
Firewalls should not be treated as “set it and forget it” solutions. In the case of Windows Defender, for example, you know that the firewall will be updated as long as Microsoft provides support; all you have to do is configure automatic updates. If you are running an office network with a third-party firewall that was installed years ago, you should check if it still provides adequate protection. When SynchroNet specialists conduct network security audits for clients, they often find old firewalls that do not provide a level of protection that could be considered adequate for business operations.
Call us today for an audit of your security systems.