Cybercrime isn’t just something large corporations and banks need to worry about.
Your small business is at risk, too
This assumption that cybercriminals won’t attack small businesses is one of the reasons why SMEs are such an attractive target.
Hackers love low-hanging fruit:
The consequences of overlooking security measures can include paying a large sum of money, lawsuits, losing data, and even going out of business.
So… do I need a firewall for my small business?
Yes. Take a seat, we’ll explain exactly where firewalls fit into this picture.
Think an attack won’t happen to you? Think again.
Large companies usually have solid security practices and systems in place, but smaller companies often don’t have that kind of budget.
Smaller companies have access to sensitive customer data but are more likely to have weaker protection, overlook security details, or even wait before they create any sort of emergency response plan.
After all, all those data breach news headlines feature huge companies.
Nobody’s going to attack your little family-owned non-profit, right?
Hackers know that’s your rationale. But here’s the thing:
They’re only interested in data you can access, like email addresses, card and bank details, or medical information.
To them, the size of your business only means they’ll probably get easier access.
What does that mean for you?
So we can agree that security definitely isn’t something you want to leave on the back burners.
And firewalls are a much-needed line of protection that can help you prevent, or at the very least, survive attacks as a small business.
You’ll still need other security measures like:
None of these measures alone are enough to keep your site safe – if your employee falls for phishing, regular maintenance won’t save you.
A strong, layered security system is a whole ‘nother ball game for you and any threat that knocks on your door.
Now… what even is a firewall?
First things first…
A firewall is a network security system that protects your website from unauthorized access by inspecting and filtering data packets and blocking the ones that look like potential threats.
In a nutshell, it’s like a bouncer for your website. It allows the people on your list to enter, but won’t let just anyone through – especially if they’re behaving suspiciously or trying to sneak in.
Firewalls compare the entering and exiting packets of data to both familiar and malicious patterns to decide whether or not they should be allowed access.
So, if your employee is browsing from a remote, VPN-connected network, everything works as usual.
But, if somebody tries to access your network from an unauthorized location, your firewall sends you a notification. It stops all traffic from going out so that nothing can get stolen.
Here’s why that’s immensely helpful:
We’ll talk more about the benefits of firewalls in a second.
There are a couple of types of firewalls you can choose from and combine to protect your business.
Starting with the basic categories, here’s a little about each of them:
|Firewall type||Overview||Best for|
|Hardware firewall||Device installed to act as a barrier for the organization’s internal network and control its traffic in both directions.||Businesses that have multiple computers connected to the same network – a single hardware firewall covers them all.|
|Software firewall||Software installed on an individual device and offers device and application-level protection.||Customizing the regulations for the individual device that hosts it and the applications on it.|
|Cloud firewall||Third-party vendor-hosted solution for network protection that doesn’t require the company’s physical resources.||Larger businesses that don’t have an in-house security team but need a firewall that protects multiple devices.|
Apart from those three, there are many other subtypes of firewalls like
We’ll stop there, but you get the idea: there’s a lot of options to choose from.
But how many firewalls do I need for a small business?
You could have a few of them if you have multiple internet connections, but one firewall can be enough – especially if it’s the next-generation type.
Unfortunately, poorly-configured firewalls can be another in the line of security risks for your business, so getting a good package and having expert help setting it up is crucial.
We already covered the fact that small businesses are just as juicy targets as large companies, and that firewalls aren’t the only security measure you should use to protect your business.
But why are firewalls important for small businesses?
Here are the top 6 reasons to consider:
We promise to stick to human-speak, so you won’t need to Google a bunch of cybersecurity terms to keep up.
Professional services and nonprofits have access to lots of private and sensitive info about their clients they need to keep safe.
If your website is compromised, so is their data, and yours.
Investing in firewalls, among other security measures, puts an extra lock on your database and helps keep it private:
So, for starters, you’re not doing potential hackers a favor by leaving it all out in the open for self-service like many small businesses are.
And hopefully, they never even try you. But if they do…
A small escrow company went out of business and laid off its entire staff due to a $1.5 million remote trojan attack that infiltrated the company’s network.
The owners had to deal with lawsuits and recovered only a part of the stolen money.
A firewall makes it harder for such things to happen because it can identify and block malware, ransomware, and some viruses – especially if you have a next-generation firewall.
So you can close that back door to your sensitive data and filter or block non-permitted traffic.
And if something still manages to fall through the cracks?
Just having a firewall in place along with your other security measures helps reduce the damage and shows that it wasn’t your negligence that left you vulnerable.
Unfortunately, not all firewalls can completely protect you from all kinds of threats – some viruses might still infiltrate your system.
But every firewall notifies you of a threat immediately, so you have time to react and take all the necessary steps to protect yourself.
It shuts down data outflow, which means exactly what it sounds like:
Doors are locked, so nothing can get out.
Why would you want that?
A firewall might help you stop the attack then and there, or make it difficult enough for the attacker to continue to make them give up and deter them to an easier target.
A firewall keeps your private network safe from external threats and unauthorized access.
You can decide which sources are allowed in, but also out – especially with a software firewall that guards the apps and individual devices that host it.
For example, popular custom firewalls include parental controls or workplace web browsing restrictions.
And, while “web browsing restrictions” sounds like a bad thing, it doesn’t have to be.
It’s not just a tool to keep your employees from scrolling on social media.
Browsing restrictions can help protect your network from malware-infected sites, so you can use the internet without worrying about exposing your business to risk.
And while we’re on software firewalls…
You can protect individual devices with software firewalls, so your remote employees still keep you safe.
With VPNs, you create a secure connection between a device and the internet via an encrypted tunnel that hides your IP address and keeps your location hidden.
It helps you stay off the radar for external attacks.
Firewalls also function as an extra measure to lower the chances of your employees falling for phishing – and, at least, lower the threat to your business even if they do fall for it.
That said, we need to reiterate that, regardless of what other security measures you take, you need to invest in proper employee training because employees are your biggest security threat.
Your business is only as secure as your weakest link is.
A single email is enough to wreak havoc – a small cancer nonprofit from Indiana got hacked because one employee accidentally downloaded malware from an email.
Hackers gained access to their data and posted some of it online, including condolence letters to grieving families. The business lost a lot of the grants that pay their bills.
Clearly, hackers don’t care about how small the company is. Or how noble their cause.
So don’t do them a favor and assume they won’t pick you.
And we’ve come to the end goal result and the reason why you’re even reading all of this:
25% of small businesses have to spend $10,000 or more to resolve an attack, and 25% of those that get attacked lose their businesses.
The ones that stay in business struggle to win back their customers’ trust after losing their data.
And getting new customers is harder when your SEO ranking plummets due to downtime, too.
All in all: not a situation you want to be in.
You want to assure your clients you’re taking their trust seriously and you’re taking measures to keep their information private, regardless of your industry or business size.
Firewalls can help prevent all of these nightmare scenarios. But the only way to be sure you’re doing everything possible is to create a holistic security system for your small business.
Maybe you’re still thinking – “what are the chances it will happen to us?”
But don’t fall into that trap.
That’s exactly the reason small businesses are attractive targets for hackers – and why protecting yours with firewalls is of pivotal importance.
That said, there’s too much at stake for you to DIY your way out of this one.
Speaking with security experts is a better way to get started and make sure you pick the right mix of firewalls to protect yourself.
State Creative can help with web application firewalls, so it’s worth reaching out if you’d like peace of mind over your website.