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What Is A Managed Firewall And Do You Need One?

Managed services 06/11/2020 - 13:34 by Ruchika Tyagi

A firewall is the first line of defense against cyber-attack. It is also called perimeter security. Firewalls will identify and stop malicious or suspicious traffic from reaching your network.

Firewall management is a continuous process that needs IT security expertise & monitoring. This expertise is not available with companies and that is where Managed firewalls as a service can help a business, there they keep firewalls on-premises but partner with managed service providers because of various reasons mentioned below.

Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) offer a managed firewall as a service that includes configuration, auditing, optimization & maintenance.

An MSSP maintains and modifies firewall rules as per analysis and prepares reports or provides feedback based on the same. The MSSP is involved in firewall installation and security applications running on it such as application control, email filtering, web content filtering, etc. They do blacklisting & whitelisting of the URLs. The MSSP is also responsible for managing patching & regular updates.

Who needs a Managed Firewall Service?

Companies who don’t have expertise and want to save the cost. Firewalls are perimeter security devices protecting the network traffic and must be compliant with GDPR, HIPAA, etc. Organizations that have limited resources in support or do not have the expertise internally, can leverage MSSP. Most organizations prefer to outsource their Managed Firewall Services so that they can focus on their business & have peace of mind without worrying about the ongoing issues of IT.

What comes under Managed Firewall Services?

The firewall needs proper maintenance and monitoring after installation. Just installing a firewall once is not enough. Whether it is for compliance or cybersecurity, managed firewall services bring value.

Commonly overlooked issues in Firewalls

Our team has encountered many security risks while evaluating configuration or rule settings on the firewall. Some of the issues are:

  1. Improper Maintenance – Even a single firewall requires proper maintenance & daily monitoring which includes reviewing rule sets, firmware patching & updating configuration. If the company has multiple firewalls & the IT support team is either limited or doesn’t have expertise then security issues can be overlooked, which results in making the network vulnerable to data loss or hackers.
  2. Infrequent Auditing – Firewall auditing is crucial for compliance. If it is not done properly, it can result in non-compliance with GDPR or HIPAA. MSSP performs regular firewall audits which include updating the rules & patches.
  3. Firewall Misconfiguration – Our team has reported many instances where none of the customer’s IT support engineers have logged in to review the firewall configuration. Once they have installed it initially, they do not pay attention to it until there is an incident. However, the configuration or rules should be reviewed regularly to avoid any incident.
  4. Insecure DMZ – Demilitarized zone (DMZ) is the area between the outside world and the inside world. Our team has noticed that in some cases firewall ports/ services were left open on either side of this DMZ. This makes the infrastructure fully exposed and vulnerable.
  5. Lack of Technical Expertise – When there is huge pressure to keep systems up & running for daily business operations, the lack of technical expertise or the lack of sufficient technical support team can create a huge problem. The lack of technical expertise leads to misconfiguration or setting up improper rules.

In another case, whenever any remote user has difficulties accessing the application then the IT manager opens the ports to provide the access which makes the system vulnerable. There is an additional risk of failing to disable/remove the rules after the activity is done, which makes the network vulnerable. This allows hackers to exploit the vulnerability.

  1. Security Gaps – Our team has analyzed firewall misconfigurations & security gaps, these are the rules rather than the exception. As per our experience breaches at large restaurants and retailers have come through a firewall misconfiguration by allowing unauthorised outside traffic through.

If a company is managing its firewall or any security devices, the IT team must have industry certification along with hands-on experience on the firewall. This helps the consultant understand – how to implement, manage, and then maintain these software or devices not only conceptually but practically. Consulting an experienced, certified provider for managing your firewall is a good option to enjoy peace of mind. Trained eyes can notice serious vulnerabilities easily that would otherwise be missed.

Why Should You Use Managed Firewall Services?

  • Firewall-managed services can save more money compared to creating in-house expertise.

Often companies ask what the Managed Firewall Service costs. However, the actual question should be how much the money-managed firewall service is going to save. It is always important to assess the risk of using or not using the service or resource because of the cost, compliance & penalties.

  • Managed Security service provider sets - up the configuration, does regular auditing, focuses on optimization & maintenance (regular patching, rules update, version upgrade) of Firewalls & keeps all the stakeholders updated with the regular reporting.

Considering how much impact there will be on productivity if the firewall is not properly configured. Or how much it will cost if there is a breach considering the GDPR penalties and fines. As per GDPR, the maximum fine is £17.5 million or 4% of annual global turnover – whichever is greater. According to the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach in 2019 was around $3.92 million. MSSP helps in saving the cost. MSSP helps in fulfilling the criteria for compliance like HIPAA, and GDPR.

  • Skills shortage and costs involved in hiring, onboarding & training technical expertise

As per a New York Times report, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021. According to recent research by the Department for Digital Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), around 6,53,000 organizations (48%) in the UK are unable to carry out basic tasks defined by the Govt Cyber Essentials Scheme like setting up the firewall, storing data, etc.

What Should Be Considered While Selecting an MSSP?

Services and SLA should be considered while selecting an MSSP.

  • Services provided by the managed firewall services provider are;
  1. Firewall Auditing Services;
  2. Firewall configuring services;
  3. Firewall monitoring & alerts;
  4. Firewall optimization & maintenance;
  • Service level agreements (SLA) with Managed Security service providers are;
  1. Timely updates: How frequently does MSSP check the firewall configuration & adjust the rules;
  2. Turnaround time for security breaches: When does MSSP notify a security breach? Is the SLA in minutes, hours, or days?; and
  3. Response time to contain data breach: MSSP should take immediate action & fix the issue.

What Should Be Considered While Selecting an MSSP?

There is a saying – “one size fits all”, but this does not apply to cybersecurity. Every business has different needs and that should be reflected in the configuration of its firewall.

Teceze provides 24*7 Managed Firewall Service that provides visibility & security into the complete network. Teceze is also flexible as per the customer requirement like out-of-office hours support, holiday support, and more. Our team can discover threats and diagnose a breach before it happens, with the help of tools, products & certified hands-on experienced engineers.

The only way to protect what you’ve worked hard to build is to be vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity. If you’d like to know more about how your business can benefit from managed services, just give us a call, we are here to help.

Managed firewall services protect your business from cyber threats. Our Next Generation Firewall and Virtual Firewall are tailored to your needs.