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Firewall Assessments - why are they important?

What are Firewalls:

Firewalls are an organisation's first line of defense against unauthorised access and potential cyber attacks as it act as a barrier between the internet and an organization's internal network, filtering out unwanted traffic while allowing legitimate traffic to pass through.

Why do Firewalls need to be reviewed?

Firewalls are critical components of an organisation's network security. Having a firewall is not enough to ensure security. Regular reviews are needed to ensure it is optimised to provide maximum protection against evolving cyber threats.

What is included in a Firewall Assessment?

Firewall review services typically involve thorough assessments of firewall rule sets, configuration settings and policies to ensure they are effective in addressing current threats.

What are the benefits of Firewall Assessments?

Here are some of the reasons why Firewall Assessments are important:

1) Enhanced Security Firewall assessment services can help identify any vulnerabilities and weaknesses in an organisation's firewall configurations that could be exploited by cybercriminals. These vulnerabilities could include outdated firmware, misconfigured rules or unused ports. By identifying these weaknesses, an organization can take remediation steps to strengthen their firewall and reduce the risk of a cyber attack.

2) Ensure compliance: Many industries and organizations are required to adhere to specific regulations and standards regarding network security. Firewall assessments services can help ensure that an organisation's firewall configuration meets these requirements, thereby mitigating potential fines or legal issues from non-compliance.

3) Optimised Network Performance: A firewall can impact network performance, and a poorly configured firewall can slow down network traffic, impacting productivity. Firewall assessment services can help optimise the firewall configuration to ensure it provides the necessary protection while minimising any impact on network performance.

4) Resource Saving: Identifying and addressing firewall issues proactively through regular reviews can enhance productivity, prevent costly security breaches and network downtime.

However, regularly reviewing and updating a firewall configuration can be time-consuming and requires expertise in network security. Outsourcing firewall review services to a third-party service provider can thus be a cost-effective way to ensure an organisation's firewall is secure and optimised for performance.

Why should companies outsource their Firewall Assessments?

1) Access to Expertise and Experience:

External assessors bring specialised knowledge and expertise in firewall security and assessment methodologies and can provide expert guidance and recommendations. They have experience working with a wide range of firewall systems and can provide valuable insights and recommendations that are in line with industry standards and best practices.

2) Third-party Validation and Objective Evaluation:

External assessors are independent and impartial, which means they can provide unbiased, objective evaluation of the firewall systems and identify vulnerabilities and blind spots that may have been overlooked by in-house staff.

3) Resource Saving: Conducting a comprehensive firewall assessment requires significant time and resources, including specialised tools. By outsourcing the assessment to external assessors, companies can free up their internal resources and focus on other critical business activities.

4) Compliance Requirements:

Many industries and regulatory bodies require regular firewall assessments to comply with industry standards and regulations. Engaging an external assessor for these assessments can help ensure that the company remains compliant with these requirements.

5) Cost-effective and Efficient:

The cost of outsourcing assessments are more predictable and scalable as compared to building an in-house assessment team. Companies can avoid the expenses associated with procuring expensive scanning tools and hiring / training specialised staff. External assessors are already equipped with the necessary expertise and tools to conduct assessments, resulting in more efficient assessments with minimal downtime. This helps to minimise the risk and costs associated with downtime and security incidents.

What is needed for a Firewall Assessment?

1) Network Architecture Diagram: Provides an overview of the organisation's network architecture, including the number of firewalls and information on the different components as well as how they are connected. This information is crucial for assessors to better understand the scope of the assessment and identify crucial assets as well as potential vulnerabilities.

2) Access to Firewall Management Systems Temporary access to the firewall management systems is needed to help assessors conduct their assessments more effectively and efficiently. A test environment can also be provided for assessors to conduct their assessments safely and effectively.

3) Firewall Configuration Files: Contain information about the settings and rules that govern how traffic is allowed or denied on the network so assessors can gain a complete understanding of the company's firewall policies and settings.

4) Firewall Logs

Records of all incoming and outgoing traffic, including attempted firewall breaches to provide insights on the effectiveness of the firewall. Help assessors identify potential areas of weakness.

5) Other relevant documentation

Any relevant documentation related to their firewall system, including policies, procedures, and guidelines should be provided to assessors so they can gain a comprehensive understanding of the company's security protocols and identify any areas that need improvement.

Comprehensive and accurate information is needed for assessors to accurately assess the company's firewall system to identify potential vulnerabilities and provide recommendations for improvements.

What is the process of a Firewall Assessment?

1) Planning and Scoping:

Defining of the scope of the assessment, identifying the systems and applications that will be assessed, and establishing the testing methodology and criteria.

2) Information Gathering

Collection of information about the firewall configuration, policies and rules to develop a baseline understanding of the firewall system and identify potential areas of vulnerabilities.

3) Firewall Assessment and Vulnerability Scanning

Detailed study of existing rules, including firewall rules and security configurations (e.g. authorisation, logging/alerting, firmware patching, administrative access) etc, and use of automated tools to scan for known vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the firewall that may be easily exploitable by attackers.

4) Analysis and Reporting:

The results of the assessment are analysed and compiled into a detailed report which consist of a technical findings report and an executive overview that provides a high-level overview. The report outlines any vulnerabilities or weaknesses found in the firewall system, recommendations for remediation, such as changes to firewall policies or configurations that can improve the overall security posture of the system.

What should the organisation do after the assessment?

Organisations should review the results and recommendations of the firewall assessment and ensure the appropriate remediation steps are taken. The firewall system can then be retested to ensure that the vulnerabilities or weaknesses identified during the initial assessment have been effectively addressed. Ongoing monitoring as well as annual or bi-annual firewall assessments are recommended to ensure the firewall system remain secure and up-to-date over time.

What is included in the Service Deliverables?

1) Detailed Analysis of your Firewall's:

  • Architecture and operating system (OS)

  • Existing access and connections

  • Configurations and policy rulesets (security and NAT)

  • Management and compliance

  • Overall health, vulnerabilities & weaknesses

2) Report on changes reocmmended for firewall configurations, policy ruleset optimisation / updates

3) Support in report interpretation and change management, to ensure requested changes are properly approved, implemented and documented

In conclusion, Firewall Assessment Services are critical to maintaining network security in today's digital age.

By identifying vulnerabilities, ensuring compliance, optimising performance and being cost-effective, firewall review services can help organisations stay protected against evolvingcyber threats.

Firewall Assessments, Firewall Reviews, Why are they important
Firewall Assessments: Service Introduction and why they are important

Firewall Assessments, Firewall Reviews, Requirements, Process and Why Outsource?
Firewall Assessments: Requirements, Process and Why Outsource?

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