The firewall access policy for your organization is a combination of different firewall rules that filter incoming and outgoing traffic based on predetermined security criteria. The packets are compared with these rules to determine whether the traffic requesting access to your network is safe and authorized.
These rules evaluate the traffic’s reliability based on the destination, source address, port, mode of transmission, travel interface and direction, and so on. Your IT service desk team will help you establish the firewall rules that judge your incoming and outgoing traffic before giving users access to your network.
For instance, a packet accessing your system will be checked against the firewall rules. If the source, destination address, port, and other metrics match the pre-determined rules you have established in the firewall policy, the traffic is approved.
Importance of Firewall Rules
Firewall serves as the first line of defense against known and unknown attacks. It protects all devices operating within your environment and the remote systems connected to your network from malware and viruses.
Misconfiguration of firewall policy or not implementing it at all can result in security breaches. That’s because attackers are often on the lookout for unprotected devices that can be accessed through phishing, social engineering, and man-in-the-middle attacks.
Most companies keep the default setting when configuring a firewall. That doesn’t offer the protection your organization needs from unknown vulnerabilities and attacks. When configuring this security protocol, you should consider your business requirements, workflow, and the level of security needed.
In brief, here’s what a firewall policy does.
- Accepting and blocking the incoming traffic that passes through your firewall.
- Check the information contained in the packets, match them with the firewall rules, and approve or decline the traffic based on its eligibility.
- Ensure the firewall rules are applied to all devices across your network.
Despite the importance of firewall rules, most companies fail to configure them correctly. Remember, security breaches can occur even when you have a firewall installed on your network. The configuration of the firewall setting is the most integral part of your security policy. It’s best to leave the job to an experienced IT specialist or your help desk team.
Types of Firewall Rules
You can implement one or all of these firewall rules, depending on the level of security you need and the security protocols already in place.
1. Access Rules
Firewall access rules manage the inbound and outbound traffic between your company’s network and the public internet. The access rules check the source address, destination address, port number, information in the packets, etc. to determine whether or not the traffic should be given access to your company’s network.
If the firewall detects any suspicious activity, such as malware in the packets, it won’t let the traffic bypass the firewall and enter your company’s private network.
2. Network Address Translation (NAT) Rule
NAT is widely used for protecting a private network by hiding its original IP address from the internet. It guarantees the best protection from external threats and only allows incoming traffic to pass the firewall security if any system from your organization requested it.
This security rule streamlines traffic routing and ensures the smooth flow of traffic back and forth between the web and your private network.
3. Stateful Packet Filtering
Stateful packet filtering is the process of evaluating the data packets in each connection that’s trying to get access to your network. It evaluates this data based on the predetermined security parameters and if the connection fails to meet these requirements, the firewall rejects its request.
Simply put, stateful packet filtering checks the state of connection to identify authentic and malicious servers and grant access to the sites that look secure.
4. Application-Level Gateways
Application-level gateway is another firewall rule that’s suitable for large-scale corporations or companies dealing with sensitive data. If you want application-level protection from security threats, this firewall is your best bet.
The security feature evaluates each layer of communication and checks everything contained in the data packet to ensure that only the safest connection gets access to your applications.
5. Best Practices for Firewall Rule Implementation
- Document Firewall Rules:
Keep separate files for firewall rule configuration and make sure that this document is updated as and when required. This allows the admin to evaluate the current configuration settings and update the firewall rules if any threats are detected.
- Monitor Traffic Flow:
The firewall log has all details of the incoming and outgoing traffic. This enables you to monitor the type of traffic penetrating your network and its security status. You can also get a consolidated view of these details from routers, switches, and different servers into a single platform.
- Group Them:
The best way to improve the firewall’s performance and your network safety is by grouping rules with the same attributes. It’s easier to handle a firewall when traffic from the same source, destination, and port are grouped into a single rule.
- Follow Least-Privileged System:
The least-privilege system ensures that only users who need access to specific services or resources can use them. The fewer people having access to the sensitive files, the lesser the risk of unauthorized access to your private network.
- Review and Update Firewall Regularly:
Evaluate your firewall and the types of security risks it has prevented so far. You should also keep an eye on the current threats that your organizational assets are exposed to. Keeping your firewall up-to-date and changing the security policy is key to maintaining the security of your system.
- Implement an Application-Level Control:
Application-level control determines which apps and servers can access your network and which are restricted. This firewall rule enhances the security layer and makes your system safer by allowing only authorized applications to get access to your private network.
Understanding different firewall rules and the best ways to configure them correctly will increase your organizational security and ensure that your system is functioning well. You can work with an IT help desk service provider to implement the best firewall and different rules properly.