Firewall management is the process of maintaining a firewall to ensure a secure network.
Organizations now use several firewalls to protect their network, and proper firewall management ensures that the rules and policies work seamlessly together.
AlgoSec enables enterprises to manage their multi-vendor firewalls and application connectivity flows in a single platform. This allows them to have a complete view of their network – on-premises, in the public, and in their private cloud.
How do you manage firewall rules?
Firewall rules determine what criteria traffic needs to meet to traverse a network. Effective management of firewall rules is necessary to avoid conflicting configurations and unnecessary complications and ensure that your cybersecurity infrastructure is as powerful as possible.
To manage firewalls effectively, you need to develop well-documented policies, rules, and workflows, and implement strong security controls for enforcement and maintenance.
However, since firewall management can become complicated quickly, many administrators choose to use a firewall management and orchestration solution to simplify the work.
These solutions, typically in the form of a subscription, integrate seamlessly with your firewall (and other vital components), enabling you to manage these from a single dashboard.
Firewall policy management
A firewall policy determines how inbound and outbound traffic is handled by your network. All organizations require effective firewall policy management to ensure that their network infrastructure is secure against unauthorized traffic from malicious IP addresses.
However, because a firewall can contain many rules, they can become complicated to manage. The following guidelines will help you develop clear policies and procedures surrounding firewall rule management:
- Ensure that only key individuals can assign and alter firewall rules, such as your network administrators, IT operations managers, and security managers.
- Use a standardized naming convention for each rule to clarify its purpose. By clearly defining the rules, conflicts can be easily spotted and fixed.
- Flag temporary rules so they can be removed when no longer needed.
- Clearly order your rules. For instance, start with global rules and work down to user-specific rules.
By following these firewall management guidelines, you reduce the risk of errors and conflicting mistakes and help prevent the chances of a malicious attack.
Firewall configuration monitoring and alerts
One of the biggest challenges in effective firewall management is monitoring configuration changes. Managing changes incorrectly can have severe consequences, from legitimate traffic being blocked to your business being hacked.
Incorrect firewall monitoring usually comes from a lack of formal policies, poor communication with IT staff, and a misunderstanding of the impact of firewall changes.
To manage your firewall effectively, it’s important to monitor configuration changes as they happen. Seeing a report of these changes can help you find what changes were made, by who, and for what reason. This means you can stay on top of changes and make sure that no unauthorized changes slip through the firewall.
AlgoSec’s platform helps to proactively identify and alert you of configuration changes in real-time. When real-time monitoring and alerts are activated, specified users will receive an email notification warning them of any changes that occur.
Firewall vulnerability management
Another key aspect of network firewall management is discovering and tracking potential vulnerabilities across your network. Vulnerabilities are on the servers that the network connectivity allows not on the network itself. With network vulnerabilities identified, it’s easier to prioritize your risk and remediation efforts.
Effective vulnerability management allows you to:
- Map vulnerabilities to specific applications and endpoints
- Prioritize vulnerabilities for remediation
- Improve accountability
- Reduce the risk of bad network security policy
- Check for vulnerabilities before implementing a security policy change
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Firewall security compliance management
Compliance management is vital for an organization to ensure that its systems comply with various laws, regulations, rules, and standards. Noncompliance can put your network at risk of cyberattacks and security breaches. It may also put you at risk of fines from regulatory bodies.
Scanning for non-compliant options manually can be time-consuming, which isn’t ideal when you have an upcoming audit or need to produce a periodic compliance review.
A firewall management system can streamline this process by automating the production of compliance reports. With these in hand, you can identify any non-compliant items that need to be addressed.
AlgoSec can generate several regulatory compliance reports for the following industry standards:
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
- ISO/IEC 27001
- NERC Standards for Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC CIP)
- NIST SP 800-171, NIST SP 800-53, and NIST SP 800-41
- Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA)
- BSI 200
- ASD ISM
- Financial Instruments and Exchange Law (Japan)
- MAS TRM
Using these reports, it’s easy to track how compliant your firewall configuration is.
Extensive multi-vendor support
Enterprise networks now typically include a combination of traditional firewalls, next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), and cloud-based security applications from multiple vendors.
Despite vast differences in capabilities and technology, these solutions need to be managed seamlessly to maintain full functionality and security. An added security challenge is the constant and fast change seen in today’s IT environment.
A powerful firewall management platform like AlgoSec integrates with all leading brands to deliver unified firewall policy management from a single location, simplifying firewall management. It also integrates with routers, load balancers, and web proxies and cloud network security controls.
Distributed firewall management
In addition to multiple vendors, enterprises often require scalable solutions that are able to monitor firewalls that are geographically distributed.
AlgoSec is able to synchronize data with offsite devices, enabling faster data analysis and reporting and ensuring data preservation in the event of failure. Further, With the AlgoSec solution, it is possible to collect logs and rulesets locally, allowing for central processing.
Best 6 Practices for Firewall Management
Here’s a list of six best practices that network administrators should adopt to secure their network from threats:
1. Block traffic by default and keep track of authorized users
You should always block all network traffic by default. Then, you can introduce firewall rules and policies that allow permitted traffic to connect to the network.
Blocking all traffic by default helps to lower the risk of a data breach, as only trusted connections are allowed access to the network.
Following this, it’s essential that only key users are given administrative powers over firewall rules. Letting too many users alter your firewall configuration can lead to unauthorized changes, security breaches, and cyber threats.
Further, every time a change does occur, it should be recorded in a log so that compliance is ensured. This way, if an unwanted change is made, the firewall can be restored to its original state.
2. Establish a firewall configuration change plan
Firewalls need to be updated periodically to ensure that they are meeting your organization’s requirements for network security. To make sure that changes occur smoothly, without introducing risks during the process, you should have a concrete configuration change plan in place.
This firewall configuration change plan should define:
- What changes you need to make, what those changes will do, and why they are necessary.
- The risks involved with the rule change and how they might alter your network.
- A mitigation plan to minimize these risks.
- A management plan describing who is responsible for the change.
- A log that describes all of this information for compliance purposes.
With a robust plan in place, you’ll reduce the chance of damage while ensuring an enterprise-wide security posture.
With AlgoSec, you no longer have to hope that firewall policy changes will turn out okay. You can proactively identify where changes will affect the firewall, simulate changes to detect risk and compliance issues and identify changes that were implemented without due process.
3. Optimize your network’s firewall rules
For your firewall to be effective, it needs well-defined rules free of duplication and redundancy. A rule set with unnecessary firewall rules can cause issues for your network security.
Several kinds of firewall rules can cause issues, including unused rules, shadow rules, expired rules, unattached objects, and rules that are ordered incorrectly.
These non-optimal rule sets can cause business risks such as open ports, unneeded VPN tunnels, backdoor entry points, and added complexity.
To ensure optimal firewall performance, you should:
- Periodically review your firewall rules for redundant, duplicate, and conflicting rules. The more of these in your rule set, the worse your firewall performance will be. Keep your eye out for shadowed rules, too, as these can cause issues for your network.
- Remove all rules that are no longer used. Outdated rules can pose a significant security threat.
- Scan your rules for errors that might cause your firewall to function incorrectly, recertifying your rule base both, to know you really need it and for compliance purposes.
4. Update your firewall software regularly
Firewall service providers regularly release software updates as new security threats are identified. These patches improve your firewall security and performance and eliminate vulnerabilities in the software.
For this reason, it’s vital that you download firewall updates as soon as they’re released. Set aside a time in your schedule to check that the firewall software has been updated correctly.
5. Conduct regular firewall security audits
Firewall audits are a crucial part of firewall maintenance. They ensure that your firewall rules comply with regulations set by your organization as well as the industry standards that apply to your network.
Non-compliance is a serious issue, and regular security audits can ensure that you can stay on top of potential issues. However, keeping up with rules and regulations is one of the major challenges in firewall management.
The most vulnerable time for your organization is during firewall migration, when you install a new firewall, or when you’re making a large set of changes to your current configuration.
Ideally, given the nuances of security regulations, you should have a dedicated compliance manager who can ensure that the business is held accountable.
However, network and application-centric solutions like AlgoSec’s, can assess your firewall policies and compare them against compliance regulations, flagging rules that need attention.
6. Use a centralized management solution
Multi-vendor security services are primarily a mandated policy by organizations to use multiple vendors for network security. However, this introduces significant challenges in managing each firewall, as the architecture and software required are usually different between security providers.
A centralized firewall management tool like AlgoSec can help you manage all firewalls from one dashboard, ensuring complete functionality. You can also change rules, produce security and compliance reports, and troubleshoot potential issues with your firewall configuration.
Managing firewalls with AlgoSec
AlgoSec provides 360-degree visibility over your network, whether it’s on-premises, SDN, public clouds, and hybrid multi-cloud network environments.
With AlgoSec, you can:
- Maintain full visibility of your firewall rule set
- Automate the entire firewall change management process
- Manage next-generation firewall policies and cloud security groups alongside traditional firewalls
- Pinpoint and troubleshoot network connectivity issues
- Proactively assess risk and optimize firewall rulesets
- Streamline audit preparation and ensure compliance
- Use APIs to access many features via web services
Plus, we offer comprehensive training certifications to help you understand all of the features and customization options as quickly and effectively as possible.