Common Sense Security Can Be Affordable!

I have often been asked “Why does Securing my Company’s network cost so much”?   Well, I believe not securing your network will cost you even more.  But I do understand my clients concerns as it seems like every time you turn around, there is another fee for some new product or service that their business must have to survive.   My goal with this Blog is to help Business’s understand security from common sense and cost perspective that leverages 30 years of real world experiences.   I won’t claim to have all the answers, but I will show you how to keep your costs down and maintain a secure and reliable business network.

Some of the most common statements I have heard over the past 30 years is, “I just got the latest firewall”, “I just purchased the Best Antivirus” or my favorite “I know this Guy and he is a Guru in Computers”.   All of those statements maybe true, but they really do not have much to do with security as a whole.   Security is about controlling who and what enters your network or business and how they are allowed to enter.   When we talk about network security, everyone naturally thinks of computer security but physical security is just as important.   If your company laptop is stolen from the front seat of your car and has all your company data on it……Is that a problem?   My goal with these blog post is hopefully get you to think about security in a basic common-sense way without too much technical details but with enough information to allow you ask the right questions.

When building a secure network, I believe your network should be built with many different layers of security with the first layer being a good managed IDS/IPS firewall.   I always recommend a managed firewall to ensure your network is always automatically updated and protected against the latest attacks.  New network attacks and exploits are discovered every day, so your firewall needs to be updated to protect against these attacks before a hacker discovers your network is vulnerable.   Along with automatic firewall updates, a managed firewall will perform nightly backups.   All hardware will fail from time to time and when it happens making sure you have a good backup will be a lifesaver.  What is IDS/IPS Firewall and why does it matter?   Intrusion Detections System (IDS) and Intrusion Protection System (IPS), automatically detects bad network traffic moving in and out of your network then attempts to block this traffic before it causes any trouble.  Think of the Firewall as the lock on your door and IDS/IPS as your security system.

So now that you know what you need, how do you get one?  There are many different firewalls manufacturers and resellers out there but they are not all the same.   I am not going to recommend a specific manufacturer or reseller, but only tell you what to look for when selecting a product.   First of all, you are not going to find business grade firewalls with IPD/IDS at Walmart, Best Buy or Staples, so if you have one of those products in your office, please replace it.   The best way to find a business grade firewall is talking with a computer or network reseller to find out what they offer.  Here are a few questions you should be asking when trying to find the right product for your business:

  • How long have they been reselling that brand of firewall? If they have been reselling a particular product for less than 2 years, I would question how committed or knowledgeable they are with that brand of firewall.
  • How many different firewall manufacturers does the reseller sell/support? Again, if they are selling and supporting many different manufacturers chances are they are jacks of all trades and masters of none.   Manufacturers implement security in different ways, and not configuring something properly, may leave your network wide open for a network attack.
  • Does the reseller have direct support with the manufacturer? If there is an issue(s), can the reseller pick up a phone and call someone?  Many manufacturers only offer limited email support or none at all.   I often see Open Sourced firewalls, like PFSense, with no support contracts.   PFSense is a great product when configured properly with a 3rd party support contract.   Since PFSense allows the product to be downloaded and installed for free, you never know what you are getting for sure.
  • Is WIFI built into your firewall? I typically don’t recommend this, as I feel if it is better to keep these two functions separate.   In a later post, I will explain why I feel this way and how I use VLANs, which adds additional security……for FREE!
  • How many managed firewalls do they have deployed at their clients? If you are their first one, walk away.   You don’t want them to be learning on your dime.
  • If my firewall fails, do they have a spare in stock? This is where the nightly backups come in handy.   Your reseller should be able to download last night’s backup and have you quickly back up and running again.

I know you’re probably thinking that you would love to have a fully managed firewall, but there is no way your business could afford it.   Well, prices have really come down and you will be surprised what you can get for under $100 per month.   There are many more features that a managed firewall offers to help keep your network safe and secure.   In my future blog posts, I will discuss these features and many other affordable security measures your business can implement.

Until next time……. Keep Safe My Friends!

Rick Barhorst, President

Reliable Business Solutions, Inc.

Fort Loramie, Ohio