What is a Firewall?

January 25, 2012

Yesterday a firewall was all about security, but today a firewall can be deployed and used to increase employee and business productivity. Even if your firewall has only been in place for 3 or 4 years it may be time to look at upgrading. The new technology continues to provide network security and restrict traffic to unwanted or harmful sites, but it can also reduce the need for extra bandwidth and prioritize business traffic.

The primary purpose of a firewall is to filter incoming and outgoing traffic that flows through your computer network providing network security. Originally, firewalls were designed to protect your network from unauthorized access to your company’s system from the public internet. Now, firewalls can be used to prevent your employees from accessing specific areas of the public internet by fine tuning a whole host of rules. In many corporate environments employees spend a tremendous amount of time surfing the web, using bandwidth and consequently slowing internet speeds for all users on your network.

Recently, I had a company complaining that applications running across their Wide Area Network were slow. The cost of upgrading the WAN network speed amounted to thousands of dollars per month. We were able to do a packet capture and found many users streaming music across the WAN. In the old days we would have blocked the offending music site by utilizing a simple firewall rule, but some of the people streaming music were in work roles that gave them the authority to stream music. With the technology available in today’s firewalls we were able to create rules that allowed some to stream music while others could not. Further, if restricting traffic to such sites is not something you want to do, a firewall can prioritize business application traffic over non-business traffic.

New firewall technology allows for creating employee specific web content and tailoring web utilization by employee roles. Granular content filtering can be established by predefined categories, a combination of categories, or even on an individual user level. Filters can be further tailored by time of day and day of week! In many instances bandwidth is not an issue after business hours so restrictions on media would not be necessary for an employee working late.
Creating filters to prioritize web based applications and blocking or limiting non-business applications helps to reduce your bandwidth requirements and keeps employees using the internet connectivity primarily for business purposes only.

A properly installed firewall becomes a productivity and cost saving tool by prioritizing your web based applications over non-essential applications. A new, properly configured firewall will not only provide network security and increase employ productivity, it will also control bandwidth usage and prioritize traffic ensuring your organization runs efficiently.

For further information on this or any technology issue please feel free to call or email,

Craig Hodges

craig_hodges@bsbcom.com
586-330-9252 DID/Cell

Posted in Understanding Telephony Blog | Edit | Leave a Comment »

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