A network firewall is often your company’s first line of defense in the daily data protection battle.
For the benefit of those whose day job is not in IT, a firewall is a system that protects your private network from unauthorized access. And regardless of the size of your business, a firewall is one essential element of your IT security strategy.


An evolving defense mechanism

Firewalls have been around for decades, and in that time they, like most other technologies, have evolved significantly. There are many different types of firewalls—proxy, unified threat management, threat-focused, and many more—but they all have the same fundamental job of keeping your information safe.
Initially, firewalls were designed much like border crossings—inspecting each vehicle in the flow of traffic trying to enter a system, and determining its fate using logic. As time progressed, so did the knowledge of firewall architects. Soon they were able to provide different settings for various user groups, allowing access to certain sites depending on department affiliation, for example.


Cornerstone of a larger strategy

Today, firewalls include or work seamlessly with a whole host of features, from secure sockets layer (SSL) inspection to anti-virus to virtual private networks (VPNs). Still, they’re just one part of what should be a full IT security strategy and defense plan.
Your company’s IT security needs to enhance risk awareness—especially with everyday employees who may not be working in IT—and protect the private, critically important data entrusted to you by your customers or client base.


Test your fortifications

Security assessments done internally by your IT department, or externally by a third party, can test the power of your firewall against potential security threats. Typically, testing and assessment by a third party brings in an outside perspective on the potential threats your internal team may not have considered or know how to test for.
If a weakness or vulnerability is found, it should be addressed immediately to bolster the strength of your firewall and the security of your business-critical information. Depending on the strength and breadth of your IT personnel, you may be able to make these changes and enhancements internally. Often, though, an outside service is needed.