As a small business owner, there are numerous questions you must consider when it comes to your company's security. Now, every type of organization from large-scale enterprises to small mom-and-pop operations have been targeted by hackers and malicious actors – in this environment, there's no such thing as being too careful.
Just one of these considerations extends to the protections in place for your small business network, including a firewall. But, what exactly is a next-generation firewall (NGFW), does your firm need one in place, and if so, what should you look for here?
Luckily, your friends at iT1 Source and our partner Cisco are here to help. We've gathered a whole host of information about Cisco's industry-leading NGFW, as well as what you should look for when implementing one within your company's critical infrastructure. Let's take a look:
"Next-generation firewalls build upon the capabilities of older technology."
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of network protection here, it's important that you have a full understanding of what we mean by "next-generation firewall." Firewalls are nothing new – these safeguards have been in place in corporate networks for nearly two decades in some places. However, these legacy firewalls aren't the same as today's NGFW.
According to TechTarget's Margaret Rouse, NGFWs build upon the capabilities of older technology by leveraging three main systems and processes, including enterprise firewall abilities, intrusion prevention as well as application control. This means that in addition to packet filtering, network address translation, URL blocking and control for virtual private networks, NGFWs also include Quality of Service capabilities, security and deep packet inspections, application awareness processes as well as reputational malware detection.
"NGFWs bring additional context to the firewall's decision-making process by providing it with the ability to understand the details of the web application traffic passing through it and taking action to block traffic that might exploit vulnerabilities," Rouse explained.
What does this mean for your small business? Overall, having a NGFW in place translates to boosted protection and security as well as better control and visibility into activity taking place across the network.
Now that it's clear that a NGFW is something any size business can benefit from – particularly smaller organizations that might not have as staunch security measures and processes as a larger enterprise – it's also critical to know what to look for with this technology.
Cisco created a comprehensive checklist to help business owners and IT admins better understand the requirements here. A few of the essential items included here are:
"An integrated, multi-layered approach can provide greater visibility into threats and consequently, better protection," Cisco noted in its checklist. "Consolidating multiple boxes onto a single platform also eliminates the complexity and cost of purchasing and managing multiple solutions."
This is good news for the overall security of the firm, as well as for those in charge of IT processes.
It's important that when you look to integrate a NGFW, it meets all of these requirements, as well as any additional, unique needs your business will have. One industry-leading solution that meets all the marks here is Cisco Adaptive Security Application with FirePOWER Services. This NGFW was created specifically with corporate needs in mind, and includes not only a powerful stateful firewall, but threat and malware protection as well. The technology provides business owners and IT staff with unparalleled visibility and control, enabling firms to keep up with the fast pace of today's threat environment. Best of all, it's automation and single-platform management translates to reduced complexity, a key benefit for small business in particular.