In part 1 of this series, “What small business owners need to know about technology”, we talked about internet connectivity for your business.
In part 2, we are going to talk about Firewalls and why you need a great one. Don’t worry if you don’t know what a Firewall is or what it does because I am going to explain everything in very non-technical terms.
Let’s pretend for a minute that the Internet pipe that we talked about in part 1 is a road into a subdivision and all of the houses in that subdivision represent all of the computers in your business. Then let’s pretend that cars on that road represent internet traffic and how it moves in and out of your business. Since our subdivision is not gated, our employees can drive their cars anywhere they want to go AND people that don’t live in your subdivision (ie. Don’t work for your business) can drive into the subdivision. OK, let’s break from the analogy for a minute. Can you imagine how dangerous that could be your business?
OK, back the analogy. Think of a Firewall as putting a security gate. Now, this security gate is going to stop every car and make sure they are a welcome guest. If they aren’t welcome, they can’t get into the subdivision. This is how most firewalls function today, and it’s just not enough to fully protect your business.
The Firewall that I recommend you use not only has a security gate, but a security guard with a dog. The firewall that I want you to use includes features like intrusion detection and prevention, traffic inspection, website content filtering, and VPN capabilities. To use our analogy, the gate would stop the car, the security guard would check the driver’s license, check the trunk, use mirrors to look under the car, and the dog with sniff every inch of the car to make sure it was clean. You see, most viruses and malware that affect your business productivity today are gotten from legitimate websites that have been hacked. Your employees do not even have to click on anything to get these viruses; just going to the site can infect the PC. How many viruses has your company gotten this year?
Our security guard and dog have another job as well. Not only are they going to check cars trying to get into our subdivision, but they are going to check cars leaving it as well. If your company does not want your employees driving down to Amazon, Facebook, or Career Builder, then we can tell our security guard to not let them go there. I am not joking about this one, a couple of weeks ago we had to block Netflix at a company because someone was watching movies at work.
Another great feature that I recommend that you look for is a firewall device that can provide load balancing of internet connections. If you remember from part 1, we talked about the speed of a cable modem and the reliability of a T1. What we do for our clients is install a T1 and cable and plug them both into our firewall device. We then configure all of the internet traffic to run over the cable and when the cable goes down, it automatically fails over and routes all of the traffic out the T1. So we have speed and reliability.
- Find out what type of Firewall you have.
- Ask if it provides intrusion detection and prevention. Remember the security guard. If not, I highly recommend replacing it.
- Ask if it provides website traffic inspection. If not, please replace it before some virus infects your network.
- Find out if it provides Website Content Filtering.