Firewalls have been around since the early 90s. They have evolved from a complex packet-filtering system to next-generation firewalls (NGFW) which are similar to traditional firewalls but include such features as Deep packet inspection (DPI) and Intrusion prevention system (IPS), and to cloud firewalls or Firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS).
The need for cloud firewalls and new cybersecurity measures rose during the pandemic, where securing remote access became a greater concern for IT professionals due to the shift to hybrid work.
During that same period, cloud-based attacks skyrocketed by 630% – forcing companies of all sectors to rethink the way access should be granted to remote workers and third parties.
Cloud firewalls were designed to prevent attacks on user accounts and company assets by filtering out all inbound and outbound traffic for potential threats.
However, there are still numerous aspects to cloud firewalls that many people do not understand, in order to get the most out of them. But before you can truly benefit from all of the features of a cloud firewall, you first need to understand how it works and how it differentiates from Firewall as a Service.
Firewalls provide effective protection against malicious online threats and are seen by most companies as a staple in network security. A cloud firewall can be implemented directly into an organization’s critical infrastructure. The cloud firewall needs access to inspect incoming and outgoing traffic and protect the network from unwanted traffic and malware.
What is a FWaaS and How is it Different from an NGFW?
Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) differs from Next-generation firewalls as it is cloud-based and can scale without the limitations of physical firewall appliances. FWaaS can be instantly deployed and are more equipped to inspect SSL traffic. The Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol encrypts traffic and data by using certificates to validate identities and prevent DDoS attacks.
Here are some helpful tips you can implement to optimize your cloud firewall and get the most out of its features.
1. Enforce a strong access control policy
Adopt a role-based access policy that limits access based on the user’s role in the organization. Admins can also leverage Zero Trust security principles and grant permissions to applications or other cloud resources on a “need to know” basis. Ensure that all employees are up-to-date with all company security best practices
2. Test your cloud firewall
Test the performance capabilities of your cloud firewall against massive amounts of traffic. This will show if your firewall is equipped to handle large amounts of unpredictable traffic without slowing down the network or reducing performance.
3. Frequently review your firewall rules
Conduct a routine firewall audit and review your company firewall security policy. Industry regulations change and you must be on top of all regulatory standards to remain in compliance. Determine if there has been any new policy rules or if any redundant rules have been properly identified. Each change to any procedure should be documented by your IT director or firewall admin.
4. Inspect encrypted data
All incoming and outgoing encrypted traffic should be open to inspection. Some cloud firewalls have advanced features that allow them to inspect encrypted traffic for malware. You could also use an SSL forward proxy to stop malware disguised as SSL encrypted traffic from reaching the corporate network. An SSL forward proxy decrypts all traffic to protect both the client and server.
5. Restrict VPN access
VPN users can pose a big threat to the safety of your company as they operate from outside the internal cloud network. Be restrictive with access for VPN users, and clearly define firewall controls to limit access to only what they need. You may want to isolate corporate LAN/VLAN networks and deny traffic outside the network.
6. Build secure wireless access for visitors
Create multiple secure wireless access points to prevent any eavesdropping or man-in-the-middle attacks. Visitors to the network should have their own segmented network access and should not be given open access to the internal network. Ensure that each user and guest is fully authenticated before accessing the network.
Firewalls protect your server from cyber threats and keep your network secure. There are many ways to properly utilize your cloud firewall to ensure that data remains safe, especially when a remote employee or contractor connects to your network over public Wi-Fi.
Whether you are working with a public or private network, the presence of a cloud firewall gives you the extra layer of security to feel safe online and offline.
Take the time to brief your team before you deploy any new security policies or make any adjustments to your firewall settings, regardless if you are using an NGFW or Firewall as a Service in a hybrid working environment.
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