Tag: Firewall configuration

What is a firewall? Why does my business need a firewall?

What is a firewall & why do I need a firewall?

What is a firewall exactly? Here at Firewalls.com, we believe that firewalls are not only your primary line of defense against advanced threats but also the heart of your larger network security environment. Firewalls keep users safe as they use the Internet, send or receive emails, and access company files. Firewalls scan all incoming and outgoing traffic on your network, choosing to either permit or block any data packet they read.

By configuring your firewall with a set of common sense security rules and policies, you can safeguard your confidential data against hackers. By analyzing traffic at your network’s entry points, firewalls are able to keep potential threats out while letting employees and business applications communicate safely across the open web.

What is a firewall? SonicWall TZ350 secure small business networks


How do firewalls work?

Firewalls work by monitoring inbound and outbound traffic on your network. When a data packet requests access to your network, your firewall inspects the packet head to determine whether the request is valid or potentially dangerous. Next generation firewalls such as SonicWall TZ and SonicWall NSa firewalls go a step farther with Deep Packet Inspection, cracking open the entire data packet to inspect its contents before reaching a security determination.

Traditional firewalls relied on signature-based scanning to look out for threats. That meant that each packet’s contents were checked against a database of millions upon millions of known threat signatures. However, more advanced firewalls and endpoint protection platforms, such as Sophos XG, rely on machine learning and AI to make behavior-based verdicts. Super smart security engines actually think and learn inside your firewall, using global threat data to constantly improve their understanding of what a threat looks like, how it behaves, and how to stop it.

Firewall configuration

Why do businesses need to configure their firewall and how hard is a configuration? While some deployments can be fairly simple, most businesses should have a custom configuration for their primary firewall, tailored to suit the unique needs of their network. The firewall setup wizard just doesn’t cut it. Firewalls.com recommends that you entrust a certified firewall expert with the configuration of your firewall to ensure your attack surfaces are minimized, your firewall is stealthy, and no pesky bottlenecks are jamming up your Internet speeds.

A quality firewall configuration service should include a one-on-one discussion with your organization to determine how your network is used and what unique factors may present risks to your data. Phone-based deployment and post-deployment support are a must. You can simplify installation and minimize downtime by ensuring you have a knowledgeable support engineer on the line to walk you through every step. Want to see the steps involved in a configuration?


How many different types of firewalls are there?

Firewalls come in all shapes and specifications, so finding the right one for your network can be a challenge. While datasheets and firewall comparisons are easy to find, it can still be tough to wrap your head around what types of firewalls you can choose from. We’ll break down a few different ways firewalls are classified to help you better understand the appliance landscape.

WatchGuard manufacturers all kinds of different firewall appliances

Form Factors

  • Desktop Firewalls – Small, but powerful. Desktop firewalls are made with SMBs in mind & fit next to your favorite coffee mug
  • Rackmount Firewalls – Able to be mounted in any standard 19″ server rack with a rackmount kit
  • Virtual Firewalls – No appliance? No problem. Virtual firewalls live in the cloud & secure networks with no on-prem footprint

Firewall Sizing

  • Small Business Firewalls – Fit for home offices or SMBs up to 100 users, small business firewalls make advanced security affordable
  • Mid-Sized Firewalls – For businesses that need a bit more room for users & bandwidth, like SonicWall NSa series
  • Enterprise Firewalls – 2,500 users or more? Enterprise firewalls are security powerhouses with unmatched performance

Firewall Generations

  • Stateful Inspection Firewalls – Simple, signature-based analysis of inbound & outbound traffic
  • UTM Firewalls – Holistic appliances combining basic firewalling with multiple other security services & functions
  • Next Generation Firewalls – The latest generation of firewalls integrating entire networks in real time with machine learning


Firewalls. Defined.

Curious for more information about firewalls, network security, or cyber threats? The Firewalls.com Knowledge Hub is crammed full of resources to learn how firewalls work and understand what kinds of firewalls there are. Check out our firewall podcast or subscribe to our YouTube channel for firewall reviews, firewall comparisons, tutorials, and more.

What is a Man in the Middle attack? How to keep your online footsteps hidden

Today we’re going to talk about a ghost in the machine. But don’t get all Gilbert Ryle’d up. We’re not waxing philosophic or discussing Scar Jo movies. No, we’re going to demask that phony bogeyman playing trapeze among your unsecured wires: the Man in the Middle. For those unfamiliar with the term, a Man in the Middle (MITM) breach is a cyber-attack in which the bad guys park themselves between you and the web. Man in the Middle is one of the many common attacks discussed in our Spooky Cyber Threats episode of Ping: A Firewalls.com Podcast, and today we’ll give a more in-depth picture of what the threat looks like.

What is the goal of a Man in the Middle attack?

The objective is simple: gather as much personal data about the victim as possible. If an opening presents itself, cyber criminals will pursue it. This means that if attackers can trick you into revealing or changing your login credentials, they will. If they can swipe your financial data, they will. The Man in the Middle attack is primarily a recon job with an opportunistic slant.

How does a Man in the Middle attack work?

Let’s simplify your web surfing to an easily-digested scenario: your computer, Point A, wants to fetch data from a web server, Point B. Point A requests data, the request travels over the web, and the web server receives the request. The web server gathers the data and ships it back to Point A. Man in the Middle attacks occur when a cyber attacker plants a toolkit between Point A and Point B and acts as a stepping stone between the two.

From this position, the Man in the Middle employs keyloggers, social engineering, and monitoring tools to either abscond with personal data or attempt to manipulate the user at Point A into further jeopardy. This can mean anything from serving fake versions of requested websites, tricking users with bogus password change requests, or tricking your contacts into providing sensitive information through phishing.

While old-school Man in the Middle attacks required attackers to literally plug into your network via close physical proximity, savvy cyber criminals have perfected the technique to take place completely through your browser. No longer do criminals need to crawl through the ventilation system to smuggle a bug onto your mainframe. Now they can do it all from the comfort of home.

How do you prevent Man in the Middle attacks?

1 – Firewalls & Configuration

The most powerful tool you have in the war for cyber security is the firewall. However, an appliance alone is rarely sufficient. It is important to also ensure that your firewall hardware is configured correctly. Think about it, if you buy a fancy home security system, you’re not just going to plug it into an outlet and call it a day. Instead, your security devices should be fine-tuned to fit the needs of your network.

Take your blind spots and unique vulnerabilities into account. No two networks are built the same and so no two firewalls should be configured the same. Ensuring that you have a suitable setup from the start will save a lot of pain down the road.

2 – Comprehensive Endpoint Protection

Even the most expensive hardware will fail once an unsuspecting employee opens a malicious file. Building a tall fence is great and all, but without strong security at the gates, you’re just redirecting network raiders to specific doorways. Sandboxing, ransomware damage rollback, antivirus clients, and browser protection are all fantastic options to add on to your security infrastructure.

Sophos Intercept X is a powerful security suite built to run alongside your current applications. Give it a two week trial for free to see if it works with your network.

3 – Exercise Safe Web Practices

This is the part of the article that preaches about strong passwords and email attachments. So, here goes:

– Use strong, complicated passwords. Never use default credentials like “admin” or “1234”

– If you’re asked to follow a link in an email, always type the URL into your browser. Don’t click! Spoofed domains, typo-squatting, and crucial differences between HTTP and HTTPS mean that every href you click is a potential malware minefield

– Don’t open suspicious attachments from unknown senders

– Avoid public Wi-Fi if possible. If you must connect to a public router, do so indirectly through Virtual Private Networks. Public networks are a watering hole where hungry cyber crocodiles are just waiting for their prey to exhibit vulnerability

Following cyber security best practices and deploying next-generation firewalls with an endpoint solution mean instead of dealing with a Man in the Middle, you’ll more likely be playing monkey in the middle with desperate cyber criminals trying, and failing, to get their hands on your data.

Learn about more cyber threats

Now that you’ve mastered the Man in the Middle, maybe it’s time to conquer keyloggers, trounce trojans, or make persistent threats perish. Check out the Firewalls.com Threat Dictionary to learn about all of the latest network security threats.

Prefer to listen and learn? Check out Episode 5 of Ping: A Firewalls.com Podcast where we talk cyber threats with SonicWall’s Daniel Kremers and Fortinet’s Douglas Santos.

Originally published by Andrew Harmon on LinkedIn Pulse, October 2017

The Configuration Conundrum: When good businesses make bad choices on firewall configuration

Breaking Down the Common Reasons Why Businesses Skip a Professional Firewall Configuration

At Firewalls.com we spend each and every day discussing common network security woes, helping partners craft unique solutions, and helping to widen firewall education and expertise for all. We’ve heard it all: knee-slapping tales from administrators in sticky situations; never-seen-before security conundrums and, of course, plenty of bad excuses. Any network security engineer worth their salt understands that securing small business networks doesn’t stop at choosing which appliance model or services to buy. Even the most modern and impressive hardware is no better than a door stop if administrators don’t understand how to configure, deploy, and maintain the complex security systems needed to combat 2019’s most advanced threats.

Our new video series, which we’ve named the Configuration Conundrum, takes a hard look at some of the less-than-solid reasons why businesses choose to configure their own firewall (or, in most cases, attempt to configure their own firewall) instead of having their advanced security appliances configured by a team of experienced, certified engineers. Over the next few episodes, we’re putting the penny-pinchers, security-gamblers, and “I’ll-get-to-it-later” guys on blast! So hop over to our YouTube channel and join us as we dissect the most common reasons why small businesses risk their security (and your confidential data) by opting for sub-par or non-existent firewall configurations.

Check Out the Videos

“I’ve got a guy for that!” Ah, yes. We’ve all got our favorite vaguely-titled “business consultant” or “IT solution grower” to fall back on. Whatever title he claims on his LinkedIn profile, he can run cables, register employee MAC addresses, reconnect the printers, and can maybe fix the coffee pot too.

Is he a security expert? Not specifically.

Does he have network experience? He’s got a little experience in a lot of things.

Does he have certifications, manufacturer training, or industry accolades? No, but he’ll cut you a great deal.

Check out this short video to see what can go wrong when your guy accidentally leaves the door open to ransomware on your network.

Budget constraints. We get it. That’s our go-to excuse when we’re looking to get off a sales call too! As cyber security threats grow more advanced and more dangerous, the once modest IT budget is encroaching further and further up the P&L, eating up OpEx that you were hoping to carry into next quarter.

A good configuration pays for itself. By eliminating unnecessary services, preventing bottlenecks that slow down business-critical resources, and intelligently restricting network traffic to productive activities, a professional firewall configuration ensures that you’re not wasting resources or, worse, rendering your security investment moot by leaving elusive pinholes and blindspots that persistent threats use to worm their way in.

Check out this Budget video to see why prevention is ALWAYS cheaper than remediation.

Some people can’t resist a good puzzle. For the enterprising DIY master a complex firewall configuration seems like tempting sport. Unfortunately, they rarely have the expensive virtual labs needed to stress-test their results with simulated traffic, pre-staged attacks, and benchmarking platforms.

What that means is that their first real attack is a live-fire assessment of how well they did. Like testing out a boat design by shipping out to sea, configuration-hobbyists often find themselves frantically patching holes, bailing water, and holding bulkheads in place as they gradually slip beneath the waves.

60% of small businesses that experience a data breach shutter their doors within 6 months. This video outlines why you should never gamble your life’s work on a weekend project.

How to Ensure a High-Quality, Professional Firewall Configuration

Don’t deploy top-dollar hardware with bottom of the barrel settings. Look behind the curtain of the setup wizard and you’ll see that the cyber threats of 2019 can’t be whisked away with a magic wand. If you want to make the very most of your security investment; if you want to take advantage of cutting-edge technologies working in perfectly-integrated harmony; if you want personalized solutions with 1-on-1 considerations designed to address your unique needs and demands, you deserve a professional firewall configuration.

You should seek out a professional services team with an on-site Security Operations Center, a multitude of certifications, and tangible experience earned through on-going education and a rich history of security expertise.

Still want to take a crack at DIY? We wish you the best of luck and recommend you check out the . Our configuration checklist guides you through the steps of the configuration process and helps you keep your settings, rules, and hierarchies organized. It’s in-depth and completely free to download!

Stay tuned for our second installment where we’ll cover even more of the common excuses that business use to skip out on professional firewall configurations.

POS Breach: How firewalls & PCI compliance keep your customers safe

The POS breach. They’re the bogeyman on the mind of every consumer when they swipe their card at the check-out counter: POS, or Point of Sale, breaches. With famous examples such as the Target breach of 2013, in which 2000 retail stores lost sensitive financial data for their customers, it is no wonder that the menace of cyber thievery through the conduits of transaction systems are legitimate concerns. To understand why this type of attack is a real threat, it’s important to first understand how and why it keeps happening.

The Objective:

In most every case of a POS breach, the attacker’s goal is to make off with the sixteen digits printed on the front of your credit card. Credit card data goes for big bucks on the cyber black market, so stealing credit card credentials will always be a worthwhile endeavor for cyber criminals. For the last several years, credit and debit transactions have taken the number one spot as the most common form of payment in the United States. With a majority of transactions taking place through plastic, the Point of Sale device has a big target on its chassis.

The Marks:

Cyber criminals aren’t exactly picky about whose data they’ve stolen. Instead, their game is focused on quantity. Therefore when it comes to a POS breach, attackers are only looking for a few factors to designate a quality target: ease of the breach, number of potential victims, and business functions reliant on Point of Sale systems. Certain types of industries are on the chopping block. Usually, those industries include restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, gas stations, and department stores. Perimeter security in these kinds of businesses are often lax and a high volume of credit card transactions means that attackers have a better chance of snagging something.

The Method:

Most POS systems run on a Windows system. This means that POS systems are susceptible to the same vulnerabilities as a Windows-based computer. Upon swipe, a POS stores credit card data, unencrypts that data in order to process the transaction, then stores the transaction data to later be rolled up to corporate for audit. In the case of POS breaches, cyber criminals are focused on inserting themselves between the unencrypting process and the transaction archives.

You may be wondering how malware is delivered to a POS system. Are criminals swiping malware-laced credit cards at the register? Or hacking into the wires out back? No. Unfortunately, the same means and methodology of the everyday hacker work just fine for a POS breach: phishing emails, weak passwords, and cyber security oversights.

In most cases, breachers target the computers connected to the POS machine to gain access. Employees use these machines not only for transactions, but also use these machines to check email, run other Web-facing applications, or just to surf the web when the boss isn’t looking.

Social engineering and a lack of basic security culture can easily turn a computer used as a cash register 95% of the time into a fruitful honeypot for hackers.

The Cure:

PCI Compliance is a 12-step checklist to ensure that your business is safely handling payment cards. Nearly half of the dozen requirements can be accomplished by use of a properly configured and up-to-date firewall device. If your firmware is kept current and your appliance has been configured in a way which leaves no vulnerabilities and blindspots in the network, you should be golden. Further, regularly discussing cyber security and email safety with employees should be a no-brainer.

Curious about keeping your organization PCI Compliant?


Small Business Firewalls: Choosing the right firewall for your needs

Small business firewalls come in a variety of brands, sizes, and options. The firewall is the heart of your cyber security infrastructure, so choosing the right appliance to fit your small business will be a task requiring both insight and foresight. Below, you will find a handful of things that we believe all owners should consider before investing in small business firewalls.

Software vs Hardware

There exist two distinct types of firewalls: software and hardware. While virtual software-based firewalls are great at protecting individual users, they become costly and over-complicated when several users are trying to operate on one network. In this case, a hardware solution is better suited to the job. A single firewall appliance extends protection to all users on a network.

If your organization consists of just a few users, software firewalls could be a workable option. However, if your organization is made up of more than 3 or 4 users, a hardware appliance is an obvious improvement over their software counterparts.

Ease of Use

If you’re running a small business, chances are your payroll may not comfortably accommodate a full-time system administrator role. With other job roles and departments vying for bigger budgets and more attention, an info sec department that requires minimal upkeep is a godsend. Therefore, ease-of-use should play a key role in your decision when purchasing a firewall.

Firewall manufacturers are racing to accommodate the needs of small business owners who can’t dedicate entire workdays to studying the nuances of cyber security. This is accomplished by providing intuitive user interfaces, visualized reporting, and straight-forward alert systems.


The ultimate goal of the small business is to grow. Success means more employees. Success means more complicated procedures and systems. Success means bigger networks, more data, and more numerous attack surfaces. Watchguard’s Extensible Threat Manage (XTM)  is touted under the motto “future proof” because it was designed specifically to scale to changing needs.

Firewalls.com recommends hardware that is advertised to accommodate twice the number of users that currently inhabit your network. Not only does the extra strength ensure you’ll never run into performance issues, but it leaves you some breathing room for when your organization grows.


Along similar lines to scalability, small business owners should consider how susceptible a firewall is to change. Small businesses have the unique ability to test several different programs and applications before deciding which ones best fit their goals. The software and web applications that you’re working with today may not be the same applications that your business utilizes next year.

If small business firewalls are going to survive the long haul, consider how the firewall interacts with the other hardware and software. Small businesses should never find themselves in a situation where their decision-making options dependent on whether their firewall can accommodate the changes or not. Look for appliances that are versatile, adaptable, and can play well with others.

The Sophos Intercept X endpoint protection was built to run alongside any other Anti-Virus clients in use.



Bad news. Your buyers’ journey is not over when you click “Confirm Order.” Save that sigh of relief until your firewall has been unboxed, configured, and deployed.

Properly securing your network requires that the settings of your firewall appliance reflect the needs, strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots in your network. Just as every small business operates in their own unique way, their firewall should be customized to fit those needs.

Firewalls.com recommends that small business owners take advantage of our Configuration Service, built on a proprietary 100-step configuration methodology that ensures your firewall is tailor-made to suit your network.


Managed Service

As mentioned earlier, small businesses may not always have a large budget set aside for hiring in-house sys admin. Luckily, there is no shortage of third parties available to do the legwork for you. Firewalls.com offers both Managed Services and Firewall-as-a-Service bundles. The gist of it: you plug your small business firewalls in and we handle it from there. If there’s a problem with your network, we alert you and fix it. Then, you go back to your workday. Next time someone asks you about your business’s network security, you can scoff and brag “Oh, I have people for that.”


6 things you could be doing instead of configuring a firewall

Packet filtering, stateful inspections, proxy service–the world of network security is bristling with intimidating terminology and stat/spec jargon. Wading into the deep end of online security protocol means more than just an afternoon’s worth of study. And that’s just for picking which appliance to buy. When it comes to setting up your new firewall appliance, why not claw back some of your schedule with our configuration service?

While the stalwart do-it-yourself master watching the Firewalls.com how-to videos may be looking to throw away their weekend configuring a new firewall, a busy business professional has enough on their plate already and should be looking to delegate firewall configuration to someone who already knows their way around a security setup. And who better to delegate to than Firewalls.com’s certified engineers who specialize in providing your company with expert configuration services.

Don’t spend several hours configuring your new firewall. Hand off the legwork to an expert. And instead of banging your head against the racks, maybe you can use your unexpected free time on one of these 6 activities:

Firewalls Client Phone

Spend some 1-on-1 time with your clients

We all love to hear from our customers, but some days your schedule is just too chaotic to thumb through the Rolodex. But now that you’ve pawned off a few hours worth of configuration work onto a professional services team, you have plenty of time to pick up your handset and reach out to those precious accounts. And since you’re already on the phone, you can give our engineers a ring if you run into any issues with your security appliance. Configuration services are accompanied by unlimited, on-going phone support.

Firewalls War Battle

Have an office-wide Nerf war

Account manager getting on your case about lead flow? Maybe they’ll think twice about complaining after you unload a clip of foam fury on them. While our Firewalls.com certified engineers are securing your network, your team can be setting a perimeter around the office armed with the latest dart-throwers and N-Strike blasters.

Firewalls Google Alerts Notification

Set up Google Alerts for your brand

If your ears are burning, it means someone is talking about you. And if someone is talking about your company, you want to know about it. Google Alerts provides a service to set up automatic email alerts whenever your chosen keywords are published on the web. Stay on the bleeding edge of industry news by filling your inbox with up-to-the-minute articles. You stay a step ahead of the competition, we’ll watch your back.

Firewalls Hoverboard Skate

Hoverboard around the office park

Studies are increasingly claiming that sitting is the new smoking, so why not get up and stretch your legs? Better yet, put those legs atop a hoverboard and roll around the office park, provoking the ire and jealousy of those poor office drones watching from the windows. They too could be outside if they weren’t so busy configuring firewalls. If only they had thought ahead like you.

Firewalls Thought Leaders

Catch up on industry thought leaders

Thought leaders. The buzzword is all the rage in the world of LinkedIn. Whether you’re looking to catch up on a few months’ worth of blogs, industry articles, or the latest Tweets, you now have a treasure chest of time to uncover the leaders in your industry. Steal their knowledge, ride the coattails of their experience, and stay hip on emerging lingo. You have time enough to both lead and read, thanks to a configuration service.

Firewalls Reddit

Waste time on Reddit

What’s the harm in letting your brain cool down from time to time? Admit it, we all indulge in a bit of Internet tomfoolery. Whether you’re catching up on the news, getting heated over politics, or just cruising for memes, you certainly won’t feel bad about wasting time thanks to the hours you saved with professional services.

ProTip: You can’t waste time you didn’t plan on having in the first place!

Whether you devote your newfound free time to business or pleasure, you certainly shouldn’t be wasting a day configuring your firewall. Take advantage of Firewalls.com’s Configuration Service for your SonicWall, Sophos, or WatchGuard appliances. Firewalls.com customers can opt for either Standard or Advanced Configuration service, based on the specific needs of your company. We offer a wide variety of service options beyond simple configurations.

Features at a Glance:

  • Proprietary 50-Step Configuration checklist
  • Setup and testing of VPN tunnels
  • Configuration of wireless access points
  • Granular content filtering & bandwidth prioritization