“I’m sick of spending all this time and money keeping security systems up to date – Do I still need a firewall if I transition my IT services to the cloud?”
That’s a great question, and it makes a lot of sense…
For many Enterprises & SMEs, why continue spending buckets of time and money maintaining expensive on-premise security when you can simplify and strengthen your security posture with Microsoft, Google, AWS or some other company, who will keep your information and hosted workloads secure in the cloud?
In fact, getting rid of on-premise firewalls and saving money on both infrastructure and staff is perceived as one of the biggest benefits of moving to public or private clouds in the first place, right?
It’s certainly true that the cloud provides enhanced security options. Passing the burden of responsibility over to your cloud provider (who will offer an SLA to keep your services safe, secure, accessible and always operational), allowing you to (finally) sleep soundly at night!
So with that in mind, you might ask “do I still need a firewall at all”?
Unfortunately, yes. The answer is you really do.
Cloud Security isn’t enough on its own
The cloud may protect your hosted environments and documents from unwanted access, however, it still fails to protect your existing network infrastructure – particularly when accessing the Internet.
Metaphorically speaking, you might pack up all your worldly belongings and move them to the nearest self-storage facility for added security down the road. But it doesn’t mean you can leave your home windows open at night or that thieves couldn’t find the access code hidden beneath your pillow.
You’ve strengthened security in one area but left out the one closer to home.
Similarly public, private & hybrid clouds do a great job at limiting access and protecting your data from unwanted cyber-attack – but there are numerous other vectors cyber criminals will use to impact your business and gain unwanted access.
Without a network firewall, you’re leaving every single piece of technology exposed to theft, including PCs, servers, wireless networks and IoT devices.
Firewalls protect you from the Internet too
Certainly, no man (or woman) is an Island – and that applies the types of connected activities your workforce undertake every day as well.
They’re not just downloading files from the cloud; they’re busy checking emails, updating Facebook, visiting websites and googling their latest horoscopes. It’s still so easy to stumble onto a site that isn’t properly secured along the way.
Now imagine 10, 100 or even 1000 employees all doing the same thing. What happens with even one of those employees inadvertently downloads malware to their machine? Worse, what happens when they then try and access secure data in the cloud on an unprotected network?
You guessed it – not good!
Even though your cloud environment is secure, the device connecting to it isn’t. Any data exchanged between the server and the device could be intercepted by malicious cyber-criminals.
That’s a massive threat to your business.
This is where an advanced firewall solution remains critical – providing advanced perimeter network security against these cyber threats, even when your data or workloads sit comfortably in the cloud.
Firewalls for your mobile workforce
Another example: If your staff are all working from one single location, installing a simple firewall to filter out bad traffic has always made solid (practical and financial) sense … But if your one of the many modern businesses practising new remote working and enabling BYOD policies for staff, things become just a tad more complicated.
With traditional firewalls, there’s no single approach of keeping the bad stuff out everywhere you go. When employees access the cloud from other networks—like hotels, cafes, and personal Wifi – you just can’t count on the same level of security as your on-premise network.
In fact, as the world becomes progressively less restricted by physical boundaries, the idea of ‘network perimeters’ starts to make less and less sense. Boundaries become almost infinite and you need to find ways of protecting your staff whenever they work, with whatever device they use.
That means choosing a firewall solution that extends the reach across your full network (even if it’s globally distributed) and can handle many different types of devices.
Summary: The best of all 3 worlds?
Hopefully, we can all agree that moving to the cloud is likely to improve your cybersecurity in a number of ways – but it’s certainly not comprehensive as we’ve seen, particularly when you consider all the other ways staff are using their devices in the modern age.
There is still a strong need for firewall security that protects your network perimeter and access to the internet. The introduction of flexible working, free Wifi hotspots and BYOD policies, however, are blurring the lines of what a ‘network perimeter’ actually means.
That means you need a solution that protects:
- your cloud environments (public, private or hybrid)
- your network perimeter (potentially global in scale)
- your internet access
The simplest solution that checks all the boxes is a ‘Next Generation Firewall Solution’ or NGFW, like Touch Secure – designed to work across public, private and hybrid clouds, whilst also protecting your global perimeter and internet access.
A NGFW as defined by Gartner is a “deep-packet inspection firewall that moves beyond port/protocol inspection and blocking to add application-level inspection, intrusion prevention, and bringing intelligence from outside the firewall.” – Giving you more options, greater control and more advanced threat protection behind a simple to use portal.
Just remember – Cloud security is not enough on its own – don’t leave your existing network and devices open to attack.