• What is a Managed Firewall?

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A Managed Firewall is third party service that prevents unauthorised network access whilst permitting service users to access verified external data. The Managed Firewall vendor provides online threat detection/prevention services that minimise the risk of outside access to network data, VPNs, servers, email, workstations (e.g. laptops), and data stored in e-commerce customer portals. 

Online Threat Protection - What is Covered?

Startups and SMEs often rely upon set-and-forget rack mounted firewall solutions to provide a desired level of online threat protection. However, such measures do not take into account the sophisticated nature of emerging online threats. A Managed Firewall service from a dedicated third party provider offers access to industry leading up-to-date cyber security software.

Potential vulnerabilities include:

  • Attempts to access email 
  • Cyber attacks directed at the firewall
  • Attempts to access servers and network data
  • Attempts to sabotage Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) 
  • Attempts to corrupt user workstations (e.g. laptops, PCs, tablets)

The cost-effective relevance of a Managed Firewall monthly tariff can be weighed against the ongoing costs of in-house solutions. For example, the financial implications of sourcing IT infrastructure, employing specialist IT staff to perform daily maintenance and patch fixes, and the potential associated costs of additional office space in which to house an IT department, can collectively promote the reduced costs of outsourced Managed Firewall services.     

What are the Benefits of a Managed Firewall? 

The overarching benefit of a Managed Firewall is the replacement of an in-house solution with a dedicated remote centralised service. This outsourced and cost-effective method of ensuring an agreed and purpose-designed level of permanently monitored online security allows businesses to focus all in-house staffing on core objectives. 

Benefits of a centralised Managed Firewall include:

  • Reduced costs
  • Automated software updates
  • 24/7 proactive security alerts 
  • Maintenance & firmware updates 
  • Reporting (service users typically benefit from weekly or monthly reports - reports serve to outline the nature and origin of all security threats aimed at the business, as well as detailing the action taken to prevent unauthorised access to the business network)

The services included in a package of Managed Firewall services will be outlined in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The SLA is the contractual agreement between the client and vendor regarding both the nature of the services to be provided and the timeframes within which those services are expected to be delivered (the vendor may make suggestions regarding alterations to the original terms of the SLA in light of emerging relevant considerations).  

What are the Features of a Managed Firewall?

Depending on the level of service required, Managed Firewall services could combine several key aspects of online protection relevant to needs of the service user. 

Managed Firewall features include:

  • Log monitoring
  • VPN configuration
  • Patch management 
  • Ticketing and tracking services 
  • Restricted data flow settings (inbound/outbound)

This multi-layered defence approach provides robust cyber security features both at the edge of a business network and from the core of the business network. 

Do I Need a Managed Firewall?

Any online business of any size is likely to require some degree of cyber protection. Depending on the nature of the business and depending on any relevant company objectives, particular security regulations must be met. Although there is no refined checklist of factors against which business leaders may evaluate whether a Managed Firewall is essential, the following may help:

  • Many VPNs - Virtual Private Networks present obvious potential security risks as they function in a separate capacity to the easily monitored central network. Managed Firewall services from a professional managed services provider will incorporate VPN protection.  
  • E-Commerce & Customer Portal - E-commerce sites present considerations over potential security issues with a sprawling multi-page site architecture. Security regulations must also be met where customers enter and store personal details (e.g. name, address) through a customer portal. 
  • Unspecialised IT Staff - Where a company does not possess a highly skilled team of IT technicians, there is a greater likelihood of increased downtime following a catastrophic IT event. Managed Firewall services help to prevent scenarios requiring in-house expertise. 

With many businesses choosing to migrate business functions to the cloud, the increased requirement to meet privacy security regulations means that simply updating hardware is not a sufficient means of securing a suitable level of online protection. Managed Firewall services ensure that businesses are protected through a proactive unified threat management approach.

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