More Information on Firewalls
It seems nowadays if you are not online, you don’t exist. It really does not matter what type of company you run, you should have an online presence to let your prospects and clients know about your company and services. When you decide to take the leap onto the Internet there are some precautions you should take. I have friends who say all the time, I really have nothing to hide or worry about. This may be true, but malicious users like to deface websites.Which can ruin you and your businesses reputation.
This is a paper about firewalls protecting your company from outside threats and unauthorized access.
A firewall is a great start. Firewalls can be both hardware and software based. There are many different firewall vendors some of the bigger names are Cisco, Symantec, and Checkpoint. The difficult part is configuring the firewall. This is where many intruders bypass security, because the firewall is poorly configured.
I would like to mention that there are many Open Source programs and operating systems that offer great firewall software. I personally believe that OpenBSD has one of the most secure operating systems and firewall configurations if done right. FreeBSD also has firewall software, it is called IPTABLES.IPTABLES offers packet filtering, NAT and you can even change packets in Linux. I have to say you can do anything you want in Linux, because the source code is right there. It’s a beautiful thing. Linux also uses this; you can build a firewall with the old system sitting in your garage and two Linux compatible network cards.Linux can be hardened, this means to make the operating system more secure. I like the tool Bastille Linux its is developed by Jeff Beale. To really get a grasp on firewalls you need to understand TCP/IP and allot of different protocols to know if you should allow or deny them into your network. IP addresses identify hosts on the Internet they look like this 127.214.234.54. Firewalls can block IP addresses, ports, protocols and even keywords that come into packets. Hackers that want into you network have many different tools at their disposal to try to bypass firewalls. One common attack is known as Denial Of Service or DOS attacks. The attacker simply floods your network, firewalls with so many packets that it cannot handle them and sometimes crashes. Firewalls are available with DOS filtering to keep these attacks low, and start dropping packets.
Firewalls do not protect you from internal threats such as employees bringing in viruses from home. Or remote users using VPN's (virtual Private Networks) bypassing your firewall. Think about if you bring your son to work and he downloads music on your fast company internet connection only to introduce your corporate network with a worm or even worst a Trojan horse. Service ports that are open to the public such as Port 80 HTTP, have know vulnerabilities on the Internet. FTP has many vulnerabilities as well.
Are there different types of firewalls?
Yes. There are hardware and software firewalls. You might be even using Zone Alarm or Black Ice Defender. These are software based firewalls, the more I study firewall technology I realize that everything truly is a software firewall. A computer is nothing without software to tell it what to do.
Packet Filters look at source and destination addresses. This is where firewall rule sets come in to play. The firewall administrator must determine which source and destination ports and addresses to allow or deny. The security administrator needs to keep up to date with alerts on vulnerabilities as new holes are found and created daily. A technique known as spoofing can sometimes fool firewalls but making it appear that a packet is coming from inside the protected network when in fact it is an attacker changing the source address.
Application Gateways are like errand boys. You request a file and the application gateway grabs it for you.This is great for logging connections, and setting up authentication as well.
Statefull Packet Inspection
Statefull Packet Inspection is a technique used by Cisco PIX firewalls and Checkpoint Firewalls these firewalls look at the data coming across the network.It can also authenticate connections, users can usually not notice that the firewall is in place. Allot of firewalls now allow you to configure VPN's which is awesome if you have remote workers and satellite offices and need to transfer data securely.
Intrusion Detection is also something to consider, I like SNORT. SNORT can detect known attacks against your system and does a great job at logging them if set up correctly. There are thousands of different software and hardware solutions you can purchase for you home or network. I happen to like Open Source, because I like learning and knowledge and the Open Source community has taught me more than the corporate world ever will. A book I would like to recommend that is great for learning firewalls is called simply enough Building Internet Firewalls, it is by O'reilly. That is all for now. One last tip, backup, backup, backup.
Benjamin Hargis CEO MCP Phuture Networks http://www.phuturenetworks.com
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