Does My Small Business Need A Firewall?

Some business owners assume that a firewall is only necessary for giant, financial corporations, but the reality of cyberattacks is actually much different. Any business with an existing network can benefit from a robust firewall, no matter what size of operation they may be.

Why is this the case? Well, due to their lack of security and preparation, more than half of the total cyberattacks reported in the U.S. are directed toward small businesses. That means the very reason you think you don’t need a firewall for your business, is the exact reason you may be targeted by online criminals.

What’s even more concerning is that an estimated 60% of small businesses that are victims of a cyberattack never recover from the blow they are dealt. That is a terrifying statistic.

The thing these cybercriminals are after is your companies’ most valuable asset – your data. So to keep your personal information as well as that of your customers safe from attacks, you must stay vigilant and ready.

How A Firewall Works

A firewall is a basic part of your IT infrastructure and serves as an essential filter between your computer network and the rest of the internet. It allows for control over what is and isn’t allowed to enter into your network, as well as what information is allowed to leave. This sets a layer of protection and security from those trying to access sensitive data and information without your knowledge.

Generally, most computers come with an existing firewall system to block access from unauthorized sources and malware that seeks to gain personal information from users. This information can then be used for monetary and identity theft.

But besides personal computers, a firewall is a necessary part of any business network, regardless of the size of the operation. Here are some specific ways a firewall works to protect your business:

  • Prevents unwanted access from outside sources
  • Blocks unwanted content from entering your system
  • Helps prevent computer viruses, worms, and other malware
  • Gives your team a secure network to work in
  • Keeps your private information, and that of your customers, out of the wrong hands

 The Risk Facing Your Data

 If you’re in doubt whether your small business really needs a firewall, here are some disturbing statistics about the rise of data breaches across the U.S.

  • In 2017 alone, there were 1,579 reports of data breaches, which was a 44% increase from the previous year.
  • Out of the reported breaches, hacking activity accounted for nearly 60% of the cases.
  • Out of the businesses that were attacked in 2017, about 40% reported hacking as the cause of their security breach.
  • Within the last few years, over 70% of U.S. businesses have reported some type of data breach.
  • The average estimated cost of a data breach is approximately $3.62 million.
  • Attacks involving ransomware – the type of malware that encrypts data and holds it hostage – increased by more than 90% in 2017. These types of attacks involve encrypting a set of important data, under the threat of erasing it if the victim doesn’t pay a ransom.

As you can see, this is only a snapshot of the data breaches that are rampant across businesses of every size. Protecting your valuable data remains a critical part of running a company.

How A Firewall Can Help Your Business

A business-grade firewall differs from your personal computer firewall and is much more high-grade in its protection. Business firewalls tend to use more complex strategies to defend your business from threats. Generally, all business-grade firewalls will fall within the following categories of protection:

  • Business-network level
  • Circuit level
  • Application-level
  • Multi-layer level

Regardless of which level of protection you end up choosing, it’s vitally important for small businesses to invest in a business-grade firewall to keep their security and data safe and secure.

What About A Cloud-Based Business?

Some business owners wrongly assume that their company doesn’t require a firewall if their business is cloud-based. The truth is, cloud-based data is protected on some level by a firewall used by your cloud-hosting provider.

The problem is, even if the data on your cloud is protected by a firewall, the computers you and your team are using to access this data are still vulnerable to attacks. This is why a firewall system is still important and necessary for businesses running their operation on the cloud.

Beyond Security Threats

A quality firewall does more than protect your business from hackers and cyberattacks, it can also give you important insight into your network’s traffic. This type of information can come in handy when troubleshooting or checking on compliance with your rules involving internet-use.

If, for example, you want to dissuade your employees from streaming television or films while on your business network, you can use the firewall’s filtering controls to manage what type of content is accessible to them on your network.

Updating Your Firewall

If your business already has an existing firewall, you still need to pay attention to keeping it as up-to-date as possible. That’s because your firewall is only as strong as it’s last update – and should, therefore, be maintained regularly to keep your company safe.

Some business owners choose to install one and forget their firewall ever existed, which makes them even more oblivious and vulnerable to oncoming attacks.

Other factors that place a business at risk of a data break include:

  • Lack of budget and resources
  • Lack of understanding about the associated risks
  • Lack of time
  • Lack of training in firewall protocols

Your small business is not immune to being hacked

Despite wishful thinking, small business is by no means immune to cyberattacks, and require a business-grade firewall to maintain data security. In fact, with the fast-growing number of hackers trying to find their way into private networks, small businesses maybe some of their most vulnerable victims.

Cyberattacks can be especially devastating to small businesses, more than half of which do not recover from the attack. Therefore, putting in place a strong firewall is necessary to protect your business data, but also your company as a whole.

In case of a data breach attempt, your firewall may be the only thing standing between your sensitive data and online criminals, so it’s especially important to select one that is appropriate for your business and keep it running at its top capacity through regular maintenance and updates.

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