Strengthen your networks defences

Ogi’s Danny Bartlett takes a closer look at the ‘what, how and why’ of firewalls, and how a managed firewall service makes life a whole lot easier for your IT team (or person).

A cyber attack can be an expensive nightmare for any organisation. It’s not just global enterprises that are being targeted – small and medium-sized businesses are just as likely to be in hackers’ sights. Even those in peaceful Wales.

Your network firewall plays a key role in protecting your business (and customers) from being exploited by cybercriminals.

In February 2023, WalesOnline reported that 54% of UK SMEs experienced some form of cyber-attack in previous 12 months.

What do firewalls actually do?

A hardware (or ‘physical’) firewall acts as a barrier between your network and the online world beyond. It monitors and controls incoming and outgoing traffic, from emails to streamed and downloaded content.

Some of the specific ways a firewall can make your business more secure and efficient include:

  • Protecting access to data (such as customer information, financial data and intellectual property), blocking suspicious or unauthorised sources.
  • Avoiding malware – software designed to harm computer systems, steal data or cause other types of damage; blocking traffic from known malicious sources and preventing unauthorised downloads and installations.
  • Controlling network traffic to avoid network congestion, giving critical applications and services priority when needed.
  • Improving network performance by blocking unwanted traffic and preventing bottlenecks, boosting efficiency and ensuring that critical applications and services are available when needed.
  • Supporting regulatory compliance, for example with GDPR or PCI DSS.

Your firewall should be capable of providing comprehensive and up-to-date protection against a wide range of threats. Is yours?

While you’ll already have software firewalls (like those built in by Microsoft, Apple and Linux), these can only protect one device at a time. They all need managing individually.

A hardware firewall adds a new layer of system-wide protection for your network and the devices connected to it. Hardware firewalls are also likely to offer enhanced security, thanks to their independent, dedicated operating systems and security-specific hardware.

There are a few other security features your firewall should also include:

  • Network segmentation as an additional line of defence. If an attacker does get past the firewall, their access is then limited to just that one area.
  • Intrusion prevention, detecting and preventing known and unknown threats from entering the network, helping to identify and stop attacks before they can cause damage.
  • Web filtering to protect against web-based attacks, such as phishing and malware distribution. Your firewall should be able to block access to malicious websites and prevent users from downloading potentially harmful files.
  • Real-time threat intelligence (information on known and emerging cyber threats) to stay up to date.

Firewalls that can do all this are an essential component of network security, and provide significant protection against cyber threats. However, they can fail or be breached if they are not properly set up, maintained and updated. That’s why hiring an expert team to professionally manage your firewall is a worthwhile investment.

What’s a managed firewall service (MFS)?

Whether you have a dedicated IT team or not, it can be difficult and time-consuming to stay on top of the firewall updates and configuration changes needed to keep pace with evolving threats.

This is where managed firewall services (MFS) come in handy. With 24/7 proactive security alerts, maintenance, firmware and proactive managed software updates all taken care of, an MFS means you have one less thing to worry about, freeing up your team to get on with their jobs.

Pro tip:

When choosing a provider make sure they offer comprehensive support services, including installation, configuration, and ongoing maintenance. Make sure their operating hours cover all your requirements, including 24/7 monitoring and coverage if needed (yes, we do that at Ogi Pro).

How to choose a reliable MFS

Your MFS supplier should have a proven track record of delivering high-quality firewall solutions to businesses. Positive reviews and references from satisfied customers are a good sign of this. Make sure they can scale and adapt their services to keep pace with your business as it changes and grows.

Choose a provider that offers comprehensive support services, including installation, configuration and ongoing maintenance. Check that their operating hours cover all your requirements, including 24/7 monitoring and coverage if needed (like we do at Ogi Pro).

Finally, make sure the technology your MFS uses is up to the task of protecting your company. At Ogi Pro we use Fortinet technology, which has an enviable reputation in the industry and ranks as a leader in top analyst studies. In fact, FortiGate is the world’s most deployed network firewall, complete with AI-powered security, threat intelligence and a ton of other useful features.

Ready to optimise your network?

If you’re based in Wales and want to work with a local MFS that covers businesses ranging from small offices to massive multi-site operations and data centres, Ogi can help. Pop in some details and we’ll be in touch. Or speak to our friendly experts on 029 2002 0535
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Meet Danny

Danny Bartlett is a Network Infrastructure SME with 12+ years of experience in troubleshooting and supporting medium-large enterprise networks across various sectors. He values quick incident resolution and follows strict Change Control processes to minimize network risks. Proudly holding Fortinet NSE1, NSE2, and NSE3 certifications, he aims to enhance his skillset further with professional accreditations. Beyond work, he cherishes spending time with his son, indulging in shared interests like biking, playing iPad games, building Hot Wheels tracks, and embarking on family adventures.