11 ways to ensure your firewall is functioning optimally

By Presented by ITR Technology | 27 Apr 2019 at 15:16hrs
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Your firewall is incredibly important when it comes to defending against hackers and other threats. However, many people mistakenly believe that firewalls are simply plug-and-play.

In fact, firewalls need to be optimised continuously for both security and performance to ensure that your systems are functioning efficiently.

They key way to manage this is ensuring that you have optimised the rules and policies that your firewall uses.

Here are 11 ways to ensure that your firewall is optimised to deal with any threats it may encounter.
1. Document your firewall's rules

Key to ensuring that your firewall is well-optimised is ensuring that your firewall rules are visible to all who may need to access them.

It's also important to document the following:

The purpose of a rule.
The person responsible for creating the rule, and when they did so.
Users, devices, and services that are affected by this rule.

2. Rather safe than sorry

To ensure that your network leans towards being over-protected rather than under-protected, it is advisable that you begin writing your firewall rules with "deny all" instructions. In the same vein, it is recommended that you steer away from using "allow any" rules as they are incredibly risky.

3. Review regularly

Over time, you may develop redundant or conflicting rules within your firewall system. This is why it is important to review your firewall regularly and ensure that you clean up any issues that may have cropped up.

4. Optimise for speed

There's more to streamlining a firewall than just having the right rules. You also should be looking to prioritise them according to how often they are used.

If you implement your most used rules at the top of your firewall rule set, it will save your system time and processing power.

5. Test your system

Your system may look secure to the naked eye, but you may be missing key loopholes if you simply trust your gut.

Therefore, it is incredibly important that you test your system by simulating cyberattacks.

6. Automate your audits

It's important that you regularly check on the health of your firewall; however, given how many considerations are necessary when doing so, it is a good idea to automate this process.

There are a variety of tools available to achieve this. Pick the right one for you and run it regularly.

7. Manage all changes efficiently

Rules shouldn't be set and edited without going through a consistent vetting process.

It is therefore important to use an end-to-end change management tool that tracks and records all policy edits from start to finish.

8. Implement an alert management plan

Alert management is important for three reasons:

It allows you to monitor your firewall in real time.
It informs you when your system is under attack.
You can set your own alerts to track all firewall changes by users.

Therefore, it is crucial that you implement a powerful alert management plan through a powerful tool.

9. Abide by regulations

You need to ensure that you retain all logs regarding your firewall as is required by regulations.

Ensuring that you stay on the right side of the law is crucial for reasons that don't need explaining.

10. Internal auditing

Outside of the automated audits (see point 6), it is also worthwhile to implement internal audits on a regular basis. This will ensure that your firewall policies and rules, as well as how they are managed, are in alignment with your industry's expected standards.

11. Upgrade your firewall

As with all software, keeping your firewall updated is imperative.

If your firewall is not up-to-date, you're leaving yourself at risk of being attacked by new viruses and hacking techniques.

You need to ensure that all known vulnerabilities are always patched.

To learn more about these network best practices, download this valuable ebook from the knowledgeable professionals at ManageEngine.

This article was published in partnership with ITR Technology.

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