Hardware Firewalls: An Overview of Benefits and How They Keep You Secure

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Security is a subject that gets more and more attention every day, and rightly so! Between our ever-growing reliance on storing our data and the disclosing of major breaches by big names across the world, there are fewer terms that hold the same weight. At Liquid Web, we take this subject incredibly seriously, and offer several products to make sure we meet your security needs. Today we’ll discuss one such product whose primary function is simply keeping things secure: Hardware Firewalls.

What are Hardware Firewalls?

Everyone who has ever used a computer can probably tell you a story about being blocked in a firewall somewhere. As good internet citizens, we encounter firewalls all the time, usually in the form of a software firewall running on a personal laptop or workstation. Their function is surprisingly modest. They inspect traffic as it enters and leaves the computer and, based on some simple rules, either allow or deny that traffic. WindowsFirewall, UFW, IPTables, FirewallD: these are all examples of some of the most common names in this realm. A Hardware Firewall is just the same except it lives outside of the server.

A Hardware Firewall is a device which is entirely separate from your server. It has the same fundamental principle in that it inspects traffic and, based on the rule set configured, allows or denies traffic appropriately.

How Do Hardware Firewalls Work?

The hardware firewall is setup differently depending on your current configuration. The Firewall is situated outside your server and is connected directly to your uplink. If this is a new setup, the Firewall is then connected to your server. If this will be a new setup to a production server, a maintenance window would be scheduled to handle the physical connection. Once the connection to the server is established, all traffic to and from the server goes through the firewall, forcing it to pass inspection. This allows you to have granular control over the type of traffic you’re receiving, which is incredibly important.

What Benefits Do Hardware Firewalls Provide?

Now that you have control, you can decide which traffic should and shouldn’t reach your server. With the help of our Network Administrators, we can build a list of default rules that affects all traffic. These rules can be as broad allowing all traffic to your website, or allowing clients to reach your email service. Or you can set very specific rules, ensuring only you and your developer can access SSH ports or RDP. The rules can even be strict, stating that no traffic from the internet can ever reach your database or application servers, which can be a great idea if sensitive data is stored there. With this control, you can decide what’s important enough to pass and what isn’t.

Further, because this is a completely separate device, your server’s resources aren’t taxed with these processes. You can even disable the software firewalls from your server and rely completely on the Hardware Firewall, freeing up valuable memory and processor for the functions and services that your business needs to continue being successful.

What if I Have More than One Server?

No problem. Liquid Web is a proud Cisco shop and stocks several versions of their hardware firewall devices. These devices are also powerful enough to handle traffic from multiple servers. Further, if at some point you outgrow one, because of our multiple model offerings, we can work with you to plan out an upgrade to the hardware so your security can be scaled along with your business. We also employ a full staff of dedicated Networking professionals 24/7 who can manage and maintain your fully managed networking infrastructure with no issues. This service includes setup, configuration, and even upkeep in the case of potential exploits that are announced to the world. Our teams are just an email or phone call away, which leaves you with peace of mind and valuable time you can use to focus on the things that matter most. Security and management around the clock, with little to no intervention on your part.

Is There Anything Else Hardware Firewalls Can Do?

Of course! Along with the powerful inspection functions we already discussed, one of the other major benefits is the ability to run a VPN connection. This connection, which is also a fully managed offering, allows a whole new level of security, access, and encryption to your already secured cluster. With a managed VPN connection you can have the the security and control to grant access to the people who need secure access anywhere there’s a stable internet connection. Are you working from home? No problem? Are you traveling? Easy! Access is at your fingertips from any location with internet. It’s the mobility you need to stay flexible in a changing environment. Learn more about exactly what a VPN (or a VPN tunnel) is at our Knowledge Base.

Another fantastic perk comes in the form of ease. There are several requirements when doing business on the internet, some more stringent than others. One of these compliances, called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has a mandate which requires a hardware firewall to fulfill. This high level compliance understands the need for solid security in all facets of internet business, in particular when dealing with something as important as personally identifiable information. You can find more information about HIPAA compliance in our blog, and if this applies to information that you store.

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