Essential tips for making the most of your firewall

Firewalls have been an part of your security for a long time. In recent years, great advances have been made to incorporate them into a more broad and multi-layered defensive perimeter, which includes more technologies such as management tools, security information, sandboxing, and coordination systems to log events. Watchguard Managed Firewalls now massively cut the amount of time you need to dedicate to your firewalls, but there are a few essential things you should be aware of to make sure your firewall is always working in best condition.

1. Performance-test your firewalls

It’s easy to judge a firewall on the basis of its performance at its default settings. But the rise of mobile devices has caused a huge surge in traffic, all of which needs vetting at your network edge. If your security isn’t equipped to handle that volume and the rather unpredictable nature of all this new traffic, you can easily degrade your critical service and application’s performance. Firewalls have to hold back a much stronger tide and the odds are that the default settings were not created with this in mind. To avoid this problem, configure all the different rules available and test your firewall on various settings.

2. Inspect encrypted data

This is a relatively simple thing but it’s often overlooked. Be sure to inspect all of your traffic, including any encrypted data. It’s very common for traffic to use encryption to protect data as it enters and exits your network. This is usually a good thing, but it can become a problem as threat actors use the same encryption methods to hide harmful activity and hide communication with systems that are compromised. Unless they have a way to decrypt traffic, your firewall will be blind to threats and attacks slipping into your system via encrypted data.

3. Review your rules

It’s important to periodically check and audit your firewall rules. In all likelihood, you started with a very straight set of rules with stringent policies for blocking potential threats at your network edge. The trouble with rules is that they have a habit of becoming obsolete over time. Rules that were once prudent become redundant, or even conflict with each other. Reviewing your rules ensures they are all necessary and functioning correctly, both with your system and with each other.