#33: Cyber Security Series Pt. 1 – Firewalls

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

>Part 1 of our five-part cyber security series -Firewalls

>Why every business needs to set up an intelligent firewall


In this episode of the Power Up Project, we’ll be talking about the top five most effective cyber security defences for your business.

Hello and welcome back to the Power Up Project. Great to have you here. Today we’re going to be kicking off the first of a five part series where we talk about the top five most effective cybersecurity defences for your business. Now we all know that cyber security really is the hot topic at the moment. It is the hot topic at the moment for a very good reason. This is not just companies, IT, vendors etc., trying to push the new thing for the sake of it. Cyber security is a very real risk to all of us at the moment. We are seeing a lot of cybersecurity breaches on a very, very regular basis. Some of them are very high profile, others are less high profile, but certainly just as risky with potentially huge disruption to the businesses that have been compromised.

The terrible thing too is that in a lot of the cases where a business is compromised, it is not necessarily because they’ve done anything wrong. This really is a bit of an arms race between the hackers, the malicious actors, if you will, the security vendors out there who are producing defensive products for the rest of us to deploy in our businesses and also us, as business owners, and IT people to make sure that we are continually assessing our cybersecurity stance to make sure we’re doing everything that’s reasonably fair within our powers, and our budgets of course, to to protect our businesses. So today we’re going to talk about number one on the list of our top five most effective cyber security defences. And I’m going to talk now about firewalls. Now that is a term that everybody, I’m sure will have heard at some point, but there is a little bit of subtlety in understanding what we’re talking about here.

So essentially when an Internet connection connects into your business, there is a point of contact there at which the public internet, the public facing Internet there, hits what needs to be a secure line of defence and demarcation between that public internet and the internal network of your business. Now, in a lot of cases, what we see playing that role there is not really so much a firewall device, but it is more a routing device. So for example, at home you may have an Internet router, right? It might be ADSL router. It might be something that’s been provided to you by your NBN provider and that provides the point of demarcation there. But those devices are very simple devices. They do provide a level of firewalling security and protection for you. But it really is a very basic level.

In a business, given the current threat landscape, it’s becoming very important that we all look at what we have in place in our business in that position and make sure that we don’t just have a simple router, a simple firewall, but make sure that we do have an advanced firewall, an intelligent unified threat management firewall. Now this device plays the same role as the router, but more. It intelligently scans the Internet traffic that is passing between your internal business network and the Internet, back and forth. It filters that, it scans that, it looks for potentially malicious activity. It helps protect your users, your staff from browsing to websites that may be particularly threatening. It can also help in other ways such as helping to enforce internal policies, for example, to stop staff from browsing to inappropriate websites, not necessarily a site that may be a security threat, but maybe a website that is just not the type of content that’s appropriate in the workplace.

So how do you know if you have an intelligent firewall in place? Well, the best way to find out really is just to ask your IT people. But there are some more common brand names that we are seeing in Australia in these devices. There are names such as, Sophos, names such as Meraki, Sonicwall, WatchGuard. These are all the names of intelligent firewall appliances, intelligent firewall vendors, that do an extremely good job of protecting your business from that external threat, but also protecting it from those internal risks as well, as I touched on. Now an intelligent firewall is going to cost you more than a basic router or basic firewall. They usually also come with, an ongoing subscription cost because these devices are constantly in touch with their vendor platforms. So for example, the Sophos XG firewalls are constantly talking back to Sophos headquarters if you will, and updating their rules, their intelligence, their patterns, their knowledge of what is a threat and what is not.

So you do pay for that privilege. So there is an ongoing subscription cost that comes with these appliances. But again, this is just becoming the cost of doing business with connectivity to the Internet these days. So that’s number one on our list of the top five most effective cyber security defences for your business. So my homework for you for this week, find out whether you do indeed have an intelligent firewall appliance in place within your business there. And secondly, find out and make sure that it is actually in place with an active subscription. The devices will sit there, even if you don’t have an active subscription, but they’re not going to do a whole lot of good. So that second question you might have to ask your IT person about, but they’re the two things you need to be looking at for this week’s homework.

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