Businesses today rely on internet connections to perform vital daily operations. Business owners and executives need to ensure their internal networks are protected from the many external threats that exist. The first line of defense is knowing when it’s okay to use a router and when a business class firewall is needed.
When I am asked about the differences between routers and firewalls, I like to use the following analogy. Think of your business as a castle. A router is the “wall” around that castle that provides a basic layer of defense and protection. It blocks unauthorized access to the castle, or in this case, stops internet traffic from coming into your network and causing harm.
This basic layer of defense is typically fine for home use since homeowners may not have critical data that needs to be strongly protected like businesses do. Homeowners may not be as concerned about being able to block certain websites or monitoring where their internet users are going. A business, on the other hand, is a different story.
Businesses need strong protection to keep mission critical systems secure. If we go back to our castle analogy, a business class firewall adds barbed wire to the top of the “wall” and places a moat, filled with alligators, along the perimeter for added protection.
In other words, business class firewalls are equipped with additional capabilities not offered in a simple routing device:
- Anti-virus and anti-spam mechanisms help to filter out threats from entering through emails or web browsers.
- Intrusion prevention systems listen constantly to see who is outside the castle walls, trying to break in. If the firewall determines this entity is not permitted to have access to your business, it will shut it down permanently.
- Monitoring capabilities allow business managers to see which websites employees are accessing and can block certain websites altogether through web content filtering.
- Advance Threat Protection or ATP is an added feature that many firewalls have today. ATP will filter and defend against sophisticated malware or hacking-based attacks targeting sensitive data before it’s ever delivered to your “castle”.
These are just a few of the many ways a business class firewall protects business networks.
We all know that when the IT industry figures out how to block a known threat, a new one will arise. That’s why firewall companies work continually to improve their devices and capabilities. Since businesses typically have multiple people accessing the internet and receiving emails, etc. it’s nice having the firewall protection constantly being improved – like adding spot lights and alarms on your castle wall. Always watching and always protecting.
If you own a business, protecting information from the outside world is a top priority and business class firewall is paramount. What type of device is your business using? A simple router or a business class firewall?