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5 steps to set up a firewall (and why it is important)

August 31st, 2022 | 4 min. read

By Jordan Pioth

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If you don’t have a firewall integrated into your network or don’t know how to set up a firewall, you could be leaving your network vulnerable to malicious software such as viruses and malware or you could be a victim of a data breach or cyber-attack.

Cyber-attacks, data breaches, and malicious software cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. In order for you not to become a victim, it is important to know how you can secure your network.

Coeo prides itself on being transparent with its customers. Coeo has helped plenty of customers secure their network and knows just how much of a pain it can be to be a victim of a cyber-attack or malicious software.

By the end of this article, you will know why a firewall is important to have for your network as well as the steps you can take to set up your firewall.

Why it is important to integrate a firewall

Firewalls are essentially the first line of defense when it comes to network security. Without this first line of defense, your network can be accessed by virtually anyone.

You can think of this as a fenced-in yard. With a fenced-in yard, you have protection from people outside and it is hard for other people to view or get into your backyard.

If you do not have a fence surrounding your yard, anyone can walk straight into your yard as they please. The same is true for your firewall, where your firewall plays the role of the fence surrounding and protecting your network from outside sources that could be malicious.

Without this “fence” protecting your network, you could run into some major consequences. Making sure your network is protected as best as it possibly can be is the easiest way to ensure you and your network will not become a victim.

5 steps you can take to set up your firewall

If you have your own firewall already integrated into your network, you can personalize it to your network. All you have to do is set it up.

You could of course use the default settings, name, and passwords already configured by the provider to make things easy. However, since this information is default, your firewall could be easily compromised.

Step 1: Make sure your firewall is secure

Of course, since your firewall is the first line of defense in securing your network, if your firewall isn’t secure, you may have a huge problem. If your firewall information is compromised by a malicious source, there will be serious, costly consequences.

There are 3 main ways you can make sure your firewall is secure:

Update your firewall

Making sure your firewall is up to date before putting it into production will ensure strong security over your network. With an out-of-date firewall, your network may not be as secure as you’d want it to be.

Rename default accounts and passwords

Default user accounts and passwords can be easily compromised assuming that the passwords and accounts are not strong. Using secure and unique passwords and accounts will help secure your firewall.

Limit privileges among other accounts

If your firewall will be managed by multiple users, make sure you create multiple accounts with limited privileges. Never share created accounts between users and always track who made changes to the firewall and why to ensure security.

Step 2: Plan out firewall zones

Firewall zones are zones within your firewall where you can organize devices and networks. The different zones within your firewall have different rules that restrict access to the devices and networks you place in the zones.

These zones are a way of organizing networks and connected devices into groups that have the same security and access policies applied to them.

Many zones can be used to organize connected devices and networks ranging from least trusted to most trusted.

Having a plan on where to put the networks and connected devices in different zones will help you stay organized and ensure they are kept private in the most trusted zone.

Step 3: Set up access control lists

Access control lists are firewall rules that determine which traffic can migrate in and out of the different firewall zones. After establishing your firewall zones, you can set up your access control list which is applied to each interface of your firewall.

Make your lists specific to IP addresses that way those specific IP addresses are the only ones that have access to the specific information. To filter out any unapproved traffic, you must create a “deny all” rule after creating each access control list.

You must create both inbound and outbound lists for each interface so the list can determine what can leave and what can enter each interface. Make sure to disable your firewall administration interfaces from public access if possible.

Step 4: Test your firewall

The next step is to test your firewall configuration. You should perform penetration tests as well as vulnerability scanning to make sure that everything that needs to be blocked according to your access control list configuration is blocked.

Be sure to document your test results and give changes to your configuration if needed. Once the testing is complete, your firewall is ready for production.

Step 5: Manage your firewall

Contrary to popular belief, a firewall is not supposed to be set up once and forgotten about. Firewalls must be maintained and managed to maintain their effectiveness.

Regular updates and penetration tests and vulnerability scans must be performed to ensure your firewall is performing properly and securing your network to the best of its abilities.

Whoever is managing your firewall whether that is you, your IT person or team, or a 3rd party, is responsible for keeping your firewall maintained and up to date.

If you don’t have anyone managing your firewall, you could outsource and get a managed firewall from a 3rd party provider like Coeo. Managing your firewall either in-house or outsourced is important in ensuring effectiveness.

Next steps to learning more about network security

Now that you have learned how to set up your firewall, you should be able to effectively arm your firewall and secure your network properly.

Customizing your firewall will also allow you to secure based on your own organization’s needs.

Nobody wants to have a vulnerable network and now that you know how to set up your own firewall, you can be sure that your network will be as secure as possible.

Coeo prides itself on providing you with all of the information you need related to telecommunications services.

Additionally, we know how anxiety-ridden it can be to ensure your network is secure and that you do not become a victim of a cyber-attack so giving you all of the information you need on network security s you don’t have to worry about being that victim.

If you would like to speak with our team to learn more about firewalls and other forms of network security or ask any questions you may have you can schedule an appointment. TALK TO AN EXPERT

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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.