5 Common Firewall Misconfigurations and How to Address Them
Properly setting up your firewall can reduce the likelihood of data breaches. A few common firewall misconfigurations to watch for are mismatched authentication standards, open policy configurations, non-compliant services, unmonitored log output, and incorrect test systems data.
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Cybersecurity experts are always learning the latest methods criminals are using to break into networks and steal data — but sometimes the criminals don’t need nefarious solutions. Especially not when people take an average of 277 days to recognize a breach through things like common firewall misconfigurations.
Protect yourself or your clients by addressing these concerns with common firewall issues. When criminals run into optimized firewalls, they’re more likely to look for potential victims elsewhere.
1. Mismatched Authentication Standards
People generally follow enterprise standards for authentication when setting up a firewall. However, it’s easy to use non-standard mechanisms and think you have adequate protection.
A data center using a central standard like two-factor authentication to log employees into their accounts has a robust firewall. However, if the same company has a satellite office that only requires a single sign-on, cybercriminals could use the remote branch’s network to access data with minimal to no chance of account lockout. Match authentication standards at every branch or data center to avoid this issue.
2. Open Policy Configurations
Many IT teams set up firewalls that allow traffic to and from any destination. When the company or client needs to limit access to various users, they might think it’s easier to work backward by revoking network access later. However, this open-network policy leaves secured data exposed to potential criminal activity.
It’s safer to map which users need access to which information and grant access when setting up the firewall. Adding another layer of network security — like continual monitoring and detection software — would also make unusual traffic detection instantaneous so IT teams could respond to potential firewall breaches immediately.
3. Non-Compliant Services
Sometimes people leave active services in place that are non-compliant with firewall safety protocols because they’re outdated or unnecessary for long-term use. Dynamic routing is one example. It’s useful when two endpoints go down because IT team members can converge around the failed router to find the routing destination. However, it leaves firewalls open for easier access on multiple points.
Securing a firewall is safer by searching for and eliminating non-compliant services. Routine security audits can check for risks like these during periodic assessments as part of ongoing efforts.
4. Unmonitored Log Output
Robust firewalls save identification data for every person or computer that attempts to pass through. They keep information regarding who tried to connect and when, but it’s possible to have an unmonitored log output. It’s one of the most common and riskiest firewall misconfigurations.
People may avoid this firewall security step because logging infrastructure is costly, but it’s crucial in detecting unauthorized access and recording security issues for future investigations.
5. Incorrect Test Systems Data
Organizations often test new systems to understand their security data better. They should operate those test systems unconnected to production systems, but the two often overlap. When that happens, production data cross with lower security levels in unofficial test systems. Keeping them separated is safer until the test systems have the correct security measures for the production data’s security classification.
Avoid Common Firewall Misconfigurations
Anyone can learn about common firewall misconfigurations to better protect data against security breaches. Sometimes the best way to shield information from unauthorized use is by checking the basics of firewall setup. Ensuring these issues aren’t a concern means the firewall will stand against conventional cybercriminal activity.
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