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Firewall Check Season:  Why the Correct Configuration is Key

by Carl Weinschenk on September 29, 2015

meraki firewall Tis the season to do a firewall check.  The threats tend to increase in the holiday season, so be proactive and take some time now and check that configuration.  Why?  It just might be set up wrong or not up to date.  The firewall category is growing quickly. According to an analysis released last month by the Dell’Oro Group, the enterprise-class security firewall market grew by 10 percent during the second quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. It came close to the $1 billion mark during the quarter, according to the firm.

meraki security appliance The firm found that Cisco dominates the data center firewall market with about 40 percent of the pie. Smaller players are making their move, however. Casey Quillin, the Director of Data Center Appliance Research for the firm, said in a commentary in the press release on the study that organizations are showing more of a willingness to give the small players large orders. The reason for the fluidity may be the pressure to upgrade in light of the quick increases in data center speeds.

It’s one thing to buy the right firewall – like a Cisco Meraki firewall – but it’s another thing to configure it correctly. Doing so is becoming a trickier task as they are called upon to protect enterprises from an increasing number of threats emanating from an ever-more sophisticated universe of enemies.

(Short on time? Click here to download a Free Guide to vWLAN Architecture: Virtualizing the Wireless LAN.)

Kyle Wickert at Dark Reading earlier this month offered a good overview of where most security personnel make firewall mistakes. He opens with a startling statistic: Gartner found that 95 percent of firewall breaches are caused by mis-configurations.

The five mistakes, Wickert says, are policy configurations that are too broad; running unnecessary and chancy services on the firewall; using non-standard authentication mechanisms; testing systems using production data and use of log outputs from mobile devices that are not comprehensive.cisco meraki firewall

There is a small and large lesson in all this. The small lesson is that firewalls are very tricky pieces of hardware and software that must be tended to very carefully. They don’t configure themselves, and they certainly don’t configure themselves correctly.

The bigger lesson is a more generalized one: Plunking money on the table for technology does not mean, automatically, that the technology will do the job. In all areas – firewalls, servers, WLANs, and on and on – basic security and the additional promised benefits only are available to those who actually take the time to correctly configure the products. It’s an important idea – and one, judging from the Gartner numbers, that usually is ignored.

The takeaway is that a vendor or distributor of equipment should play the role of counselor as well. Perhaps – if the organization has folks on staff or a relationship with a close outsider – this isn’t necessary. But in many cases, particularly for small- and medium-sized businesses, the company that provides gear also must be prepared to tell the customer, in granular detail, how to use it. This is a good thing for all because it cements the relationship and undoubtedly helps both businesses.

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Topics: Wireless LAN, Firewalls

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