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How to Make a Firewall Effective

April 5th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Jordan Pioth

Hand on laptop with a digital security graphic

Firewalls are one of the most important tools an organization can use to protect its network. A firewall is essentially the first line of defense when it comes to network security so an ineffective firewall can be detrimental to an organization and can lead to cyberattacks.

Malicious actors and cyberattacks can cost organizations millions of dollars and damage a network. If your organization has a damaged network, it can lead to poor productivity within your organization.

Coeo has helped thousands of customers with their network security and knows how important the right network security is to an organization.

We want to give you information on how to make your firewall effective so you can improve your network security and worry less about cyberattacks.

By the end of this article, you will know what a firewall is, how it works, and the five ways to make a firewall effective.

What is a firewall?

Firewalls work like a fence surrounding your network providing the first line of defense to protect it from outside malicious sources.

A firewall monitors incoming and outgoing traffic and decides when to allow or block traffic based on a set of security rules set up by your team. Firewalls establish a barrier between secured, trusted internal networks and untrusted outside networks.

A trusted internal network is typically characterized as a private network that is secured by various network security tools. An untrusted external network is a public network such as the internet that can be accessed by anyone.

For a firewall to be effective, it is not supposed to be set up once and forgotten about. Firewalls must be maintained and managed with updates to remain effective. 

You can have a regular firewall, managed by you or your IT team, or a managed firewall maintained by a service provider. With a managed firewall, your service provider monitors and updates it for you and suggests upgrades when necessary.

How a firewall works

A firewall creates a border between your guarded network and an external network. Firewalls act as nonstop filters that examine data looking to enter your network.

Each piece of data that enters and leaves your network gets inspected and filtered through the firewall.

Once the inspection is complete, a firewall can differentiate between genuine traffic and malicious actors with the help of pre-configured rules set up by you or your IT team and will block any traffic that is deemed malicious.

The rules that firewalls use to determine if data is malicious are based on the data the firewall pulls from traffic such as their source, destination, and content. If a firewall detects the data entering or leaving is malicious, it is then blocked from entering the network.

While this is fairly universal when it comes to how firewalls work and operate, there are different firewalls that work differently, some using a variety of techniques.

5 Ways to make a firewall effective

Firewalls can be great tools for organizations to implement into their networks. However, it can be difficult to make a firewall effective if you do not set it up correctly.

Here are five ways you can make your firewall effective:

●      Set up firewall rules

To make a firewall effective, you or your IT team must define or edit your firewall rules. These firewall rules are set by your organization to cater to your specific needs.

You can set up firewall rules that determine which types of traffic are allowed in your network and which kind of traffic is not. Firewall rules are used to protect your network from malicious actors to avoid cyberattacks.

●      Define your access control list

An access control list is a list that defines which IP addresses or ports are allowed to have access or denied access to your network. It is important you define this list so you can control what IP addresses have access to your network.

It is also important for your organization to give access to all IP addresses of the devices your employees are using.

●      Monitor traffic

Making sure to monitor the traffic coming in and out of your network is important and will help you catch malicious traffic trying to breach your network. Monitoring network traffic will help you determine if you need more security within your network infrastructure.

●      Implement threat detection tools

In addition to a traditional firewall, it is also beneficial to implement threat detection tools to combat different malicious actors. Examples of threat detection tools include Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and Anti-virus software.

EDR is a cybersecurity technology that monitors an endpoint so that malicious actors do not enter your network. This tool monitors the connection of endpoints such as laptops and tablets to combat malicious actors, malware, and viruses.

Anti-virus software is similar to EDR in that it secures endpoints and detects and mitigates viruses. Both tools can complement well with a firewall and can help lock down your network further.

●      Set up a VPN connection

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a connection that allows you to access the public internet via a private network connection. Setting up and using a VPN will allow you to hide your IP address which protects your personal data.

Next steps to make a firewall effective

Now you know what a firewall is, how it works, and the five ways you can make a firewall effective. This will help your organization improve its firewall and update its network security.

No one wants a network vulnerable to cyberattacks and malicious actors. Cyberattacks can cost your organization millions of dollars and can shut down your network.

Without access to your network, your employees will not be as productive or efficient since most organizations rely on a strong network connection.

Making a firewall effective will result in better network security and will help keep your network safe from cyberattacks.

Coeo has helped thousands of customers with their network security and knows how important network security is to an organization.

We want to give you information on the ways your organization can make a firewall more effective so you can ensure your network is not a victim of a cyberattack.

If you would like to speak with our team about firewalls or network security in general or ask any questions you may have you can schedule an appointment.


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Jordan Pioth

When he's not creating content for Coeo, Jordan loves to watch sports, hang out with friends and family, and anything sneaker-related.