Your firewall protects the sensitive data stored on your company’s internal network from all of those harmful viruses, malware, hackers and other threats out there beyond that wall of protection—threats that are active every day, looming and ready to destroy your business.
Is firewall function something you, as CEO, should be worried about? No, assuming your IT department is on the ball. Not so sure your IT people are handling it? That could be a BIG problem.
PROTECTING YOUR CASTLE
Your firewall is a layer of protection designed to keep harmful and destructive entities away from your data. Imagine that your network is just like a medieval castle surrounded by a community that works together toward common goals, and the firewall is the wall surrounding this city.
This wall lets in all the things vital to the survival of the castle and community, allowing it to flourish and grow. But whenever there is a threat detected to this small city, the gates close and the wall works to defend against anything that threatens the safety and security of the community.
But just like a wall surrounding a castle, this defense is not impervious to attack. No matter how good the defense wall is, there are still ways to get inside.
On a basic level, that’s exactly how your firewall works. It’s a necessary level of protection, but because being connected to the Internet is a necessity, your network is always going to be vulnerable to attack—especially if your IT people aren’t paying attention and proactively monitoring your network for threats.
THE DANGERS BEYOND YOUR FIREWALL
Honestly answer the following question: Are you certain your IT department is in control of the following threats?
- Viruses – Malware, Spyware, Phishing Programs and other related items are all variations of a computer virus. A virus is a small program that installs itself on a computer, then spreads and copies itself to other computers connected via network. Once the program is installed, it can cause all kinds of damage, from stealing information to causing a system to crash.
- SMTP Session Hijacking – SMTP is the most common way to send email over the Internet. This is why it is vulnerable to attack. When a hijacker gains access to a list of email addresses, they can send unsolicited spam mail to everyone on that list. They do this by redirecting email through at least one unsuspecting SMTP host server. (Have you ever received a notice from a friend alerting you your email was hacked and that “you should probably change your password”? This is what happened.) It’s often exceedingly hard to capture the culprit.
- Spam – You’ve got…trouble. The annoying electronic equivalent of more traditional “junk mail,” spam is oftentimes harmless. However, spam can contain harmful programs such as Redirect Bombs, Email Bombs, and other malicious programs. Most modern email systems have advanced methods to filter spam, but if you use email in any capacity, spam is always a reality.
- Remote Log-in – Your company, like many others, may offer remote log-in options to employees on the go. But what if someone unauthorized is able to gain access to the computers on your network and control your system, whether it be accessing and viewing confidential files or running and installing programs? They could be stealing sensitive data—and you might not even know it.
- Application Backdoors – There are many applications that have options built in to allow remote access from outside sources. These applications are designed to allow tech support to help with problems without having to physically send someone to the physical server. Experienced hackers can access a network system by entering in through these built-in backdoors. A great IT team ensures those doors are constantly monitored for suspicious unwelcome guests.
- Macros – A list of commands that allows a program to run efficiently and automatically is known as a Macros Script. Hackers can create their own macros command lists, then hack into your system to steal your credit card data, destroy customer data and/or cause your entire system to crash.
While these are the most common threats to your network security, the list is ever-changing and nearly endless. If you’re not confident your IT team is monitoring and preventing these potential problems—your business could be in jeopardy.
THE DANGER IS INSIDE THE HOUSE!
An important note: Your firewall isn’t enough. You need a complete IT solution to really protect all the vulnerabilities in your system. Once your IT team has implemented all those wonderful, multi-layered levels of defense like anti-virus software, email spam protection, malware protection and other network security solutions, there is still one variable that must be taken into account—Internet access granted to employees.
Let’s face it, your employees need the Internet to accomplish their jobs. Herein lies the risk. Your employees are opening all kinds of doors and allowing who-knows-what into your vulnerable network infrastructure. The larger the company, the harder it becomes to track all employee-related activity on the web—undoubtedly one of your biggest ongoing security threats. From streaming music to opening unknown emails to downloading a virus from a shady website, your (oftentimes well-meaning) employees could pose a risk to your business, your network, and even to your customers.
So, again, ask yourself honestly: Are you certain your IT department is in control of these potential threats? Are they monitoring your network activity to prevent IT problems?
In general, always ensure that your IT team is properly staffed and that training to stay current is a regular part of their job. Whether your IT team is internal or outsourced to an independent IT service provider, be sure that firewall best practices are a major focus. If they do their jobs right, your company can provide service to your clients faster, safer and more efficiently. If not? It could cost you everything. Don’t risk it!