This is the second in a series of articles concerning the “as-a-Service” model in Information Technology: What it is, why it came about and what it REALLY means to the business consumer.
Firewall as a Service: The Future of IT Security
If you had a chance to read the first installment of this series (How the “As-a-Service” Model is Changing the Face of IT), you learned how the as-a-service concept empowers business organizations by allowing them to pay for critical information technology in the form of a monthly operational expense (much like an electric bill) as opposed to the large, up-front capital expenses that used to be the norm.
With the topic of IT security—particularly the downright scary IT threat landscape of today—being such a hot topic at the moment, affordable cloud-based security in the form of Firewall as a Service is a great place to start.
Let’s start with the basics: A traditional firewall is an appliance (a combination of hardware and software) that inspects the data—broken up into small packets—that travel in or out of a network or workstation, and applies a specified set of rules that it was given during configuration. If the data passes inspection, it moves along freely; if not, it gets blocked by the firewall.
Your firewall, at its most basic, acts as a sort of “bouncer” for your network or workstation. The appliance stands at the door of the network and decides whether or not to allow a data packet in, based on the perceived threat that the packet may cause trouble.
Next Generation Firewalls took traditional firewalls to the next level. NGFWs perform a more intensive inspection than first and second-generation firewalls. They incorporate DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) to better analyze the data packets for harmful threats such as viruses and malware. In addition to looking at the header, footer, source and destination of incoming packets (which is what traditional firewalls do), DPI also examines the actual data within the packet. This provides a far higher level of protection against the myriad of network threats out there today.
While the details of this feature could fill its own series of articles alone, I’d be remiss not to mention it here. You see, there’s a dirty little secret in the world of IT that few providers like to disclose: Firewalls do not inspect encrypted traffic. That means all traffic that’s protected by a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) travels freely in and out of the network unimpeded. This is a HUGE problem, particularly today, because:
A) Encryption across the Internet is fast becoming the norm (In fact, it’s estimated that by the end of 2015, up to 50% of all Internet traffic will be encrypted)
B) Cyber-criminals are actively developing attacks hidden behind encryption to expose this gaping loophole.
Data-Tech partner and IT security leader Dell SonicWALL patented a full-stack stream inspection engine known as DPI-SSL (Deep Packet Inspection of Secure Socket Layer), which effectively protects networks against threats hidden in both encrypted and non-encrypted channels. In short, this is an absolute necessity as part of any effective IT security plan today. While this level of inspection used to be costly for companies to incorporate, DPI-SSL comes standard as part of Data-Tech’s FWaaS offering.
How Firewall as a Service Changes the Game
In the past, organizations were forced to purchase expensive firewall hardware and software up front (for each individual location), and as cyber-criminals upped their game and new threats emerged, the firewall would have to be replaced every two years or so. This doesn’t even take into account the added expense of licensing, monitoring and management, without which the appliance’s full potential cannot be leveraged. Moreover, if the company experienced growth during the life of the firewall, the appliance often had to be replaced to remain effective. So went the cycle of shelling out large capital expenditures, hoping that the firewall worked as advertised, and repeating as needed.
As with other as-a-service offerings, FWaaS effectively initiated a shift in power back to business customers. For one thing, it allows companies to escape the continuous spending cycle that was once the norm. Under this model, companies pay for their IT security through a single monthly payment based on what that organization actually uses. But the benefits of FWaaS don’t end there by a longshot.
- Scalability: As a company grows, bandwidth requirements increase. When necessary bandwidth exceeds the firewall throughput, the firewall must be replaced. Not so with FWaaS. Bandwidth can very easily be scaled up or down depending on the company’s needs at any given time.
- 24/7 Availability: Firewalls have to be fully functional at any given time to be effective. An on-premise firewall is at the mercy of the existing IT infrastructure, which in many cases is subpar. Through FWaaS, availability is not an issue, thanks to Data-Tech’s privately owned contemporary data center which ensures maximum availability.
- Budget Predictability: IT security becomes a predictable operational expense, eliminating the substantial capital investments of the past.
- Licensing: It’s no secret that license renewals are a big nuisance. Licenses must be renewed every year or so, with costs increasing annually. Through FWaaS, monthly costs are fixed and Data-Tech takes care of those pesky renewals.
- Constant Monitoring: New threats, and therefore new security patches to address those threats, are introduced all the time. If a patch isn’t installed and a firewall isn’t updated consistently, it loses effectiveness and exposes the network to attack. Through FWaaS, managers can rest easy, knowing that Data-Tech’s experts consistently monitor and update their firewalls (included as part of the FWaaS package) to ensure maximum effectiveness.
- Expertise: Data-Tech’s engineers undergo extensive training and certification to specifically manage Dell SonicWALL firewalls. This is their specialty.
- Reporting: FWaaS provides customers with detailed insights into the activity on any given network. This includes details on how threats were introduced to the network, potential weaknesses in the network and bandwidth and web usage, targeted as deeply as an individual user.
- DPI-SSL: More important today than ever before, a firewall must be equipped to inspect encrypted traffic—otherwise the network is grossly exposed. DPI-SSL is a standard feature as part of Data-Tech’s FWaaS offering.
- Simply the Best: Data-Tech takes great care in selecting respected industry leaders to partner with. Dell SonicWALL simply provides the absolute highest level of IT security for Data-Tech’s valued customers.
- Peace of Mind: By now, this should be self-explanatory.
At this point, I hope it’s clear how opting for Firewall as a Service can greatly benefit your organization moving forward.
Still wondering if this option is right for you? Data-Tech is so confident in the all-inclusive FWaaS package that we’re offering the first three months free of charge! Simply contact us via the form at the right, and one of our friendly representatives will be happy to answer any questions you may have, as well as walk you through the process of integrating the IT security wave of the future into your organization.
The Internet can be a scary place to do business in today’s day and age—Data-Tech and Dell SonicWALL are working tirelessly to keep business networks safe and secure at a price that fits into any budget.
There’s no better time to step into the future of IT security; Contact Data-Tech today!
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