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Hardware Firewall Vs Software Firewall

A firewall is a network security mechanism or layer of protection that sits between the internet and computer networks. An internet firewall can be described as a piece of hardware or software that safeguards the computer from unwanted data and viruses.

What is a Hardware Firewall at any NOC (Network Operations Center)?

A hardware firewall is a physical device that filters traffic to a computer, similar to a server. A network cable is generally hooked straight into a computer or server, however, with a hardware firewall, the cable is first plugged into the firewall. The firewall acts as an antivirus solution and a hard barrier against intrusions by sitting between the external network and the server. When put between a modem and wireless router, it helps stop attacks from reaching the devices and appliances.

What is a Software Firewall at any SOC (Security Operations Center)?

A software firewall is a sort of computer program that operates on a computer or server. Its main goal, depending on the software firewall being used, is to safeguard the computer/server from outside efforts to control or acquire access to the system. Any questionable outbound requests can also be checked with a software firewall.

Differentiating Hardware firewalls and Software firewalls based on their advantages

Hardware firewalls let a user use a single physical device to secure the whole network from the outside world. This gadget is connected to the internet through a computer network. A hardware firewall tracks data packets as they go over the network. According to established criteria, the firewall subsequently either blocks or sends the data. Installing dedicated hardware firewalls necessitates significant IT skills, and businesses require dedicated IT staff or department to monitor and manage hardware firewalls. As a result, hardware firewalls are typically used by large businesses or businesses that place a premium on security. Most routers nowadays feature rudimentary firewall functionality, however, these solutions are aimed at home or small business users.

Software firewalls, on the other hand, provide network internal protection. A software firewall is a piece of software that is placed on a single computer and serves to safeguard it. If a business needs to secure many computers, it will need to install the program on each one. A software firewall regulates how certain programs should behave. The administrator can, for instance, restrict access to specific websites or a network printer.

Why do organizations need to deploy both hardware and software firewalls?

A physical firewall protects a network from the outside world, whereas a software firewall protects a specific device from other devices connected to the network systems. If someone tries to access the systems from the outside, the physical firewall will stop them. However, if a user mistakenly opens a virus-infected email that has already entered the system, the software firewall on the workplace network may prevent the virus from infecting other workstations.

In some cases, due to the sensitive data being generated (for example in the healthcare and financial services industries), both firewalls will be used. The PCI DSS also requires both hardware and software firewalls (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards).

In terms of software, one way to think about it is on a spectrum from ease to security. Hardware firewalls prioritize security over convenience in terms of buying, setup, and application. When used correctly, the two can work together to counteract others’ flaws while promoting their positive qualities.

What about tiny businesses that aren't as concerned about security? It's tempting to go with the simplest firewall to set up but it is important to know that firewalls, both hardware, and software, defend against a variety of dangers. Software firewalls evaluate network traffic that gets past the hardware firewall, whereas hardware firewalls prevent malware from accessing your network. Most IT experts believe that all businesses should use a combination of hardware and software firewalls to improve network security.

Centex Technologies provides cybersecurity solutions to businesses. The team also assists businesses in planning a complete computer network and setting up adequate firewalls. To know more, contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

Tips For Successful Penetration Testing

Penetration testing is an important step while evaluating the security of a corporate network. It involves simulating a hacking attack on the network with an aim to breach its security and gain access to the confidential data. This helps IT professionals to determine the potential vulnerabilities that can be exploited by the hackers and how they can be fixed. However, carrying out an efficient penetration testing requires a lot of research and in-depth technical knowledge.

Given below are some steps that need to be followed for successful penetration testing:

Perform A Thorough Analysis

Firstly, you should have a clear idea about all the physical and intellectual assets of your company that you want to protect. Assess your network inside-out to determine the elements that are more susceptible to an attack and can severely hamper the functioning of your organization. Also, review your security policies to ensure that the penetration testing team is not able to get into the network.

Conduct A Pilot Study

Before initiating the penetration testing process, consider performing a pilot study on a small portion of the organization’s resources. This will help to identify the type of problems being faced and if any additional training or knowledge is required to deal with them. A pilot study will also allow the team to plan and structure the large scale penetration testing.

Choose A Penetration Testing Method

The next step is to select the most suitable method for conducting the penetration testing. Typically, you can choose from black box or white box tests. The former one involves initiating the attack without any prior knowledge of the company’s security systems and unpatched vulnerabilities. In a white box test, on the other hand, the tester has access to the sensitive information, such as network diagrams, IP addresses, source code etc.

Determine Who Will Perform The Test

This involves creating a strategy for the test. Determine who will perform the penetration test, an in-house team or an outsourced one. If the test involves the use of social engineering techniques, decide on the type of email that will be formulated and which employees will be the targeted. Create an information security incident response team who will stay updated with the penetration testing and ensure objectivity of the results.

For more tips on conducting successful penetration testing, you can contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Ways To Secure Your Network Infrastructure

Maintaining a secure network infrastructure is one of the major challenges faced by IT security professionals. All the hardware and software components are critical for seamless connectivity, communication, operations and management of the network. However, the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture and cloud computing resources has made it even more important to protect your company’s information as well as assets.

Given below are some of the tips that can help to secure your network infrastructure:

Understand your network design

First and foremost, you need to understand how the network infrastructure at your organization functions. Gain knowledge about the devices that are connected to the network and the points through which data is transmitted between them. 

Review all the applications

The applications and programs installed on your organization’s computer systems can provide a backdoor for the hackers to gain unauthorized access. Undetected malware, viruses and Trojans can make the entire corporate network vulnerable to various hacking attacks. Hence, it is essential to constantly review all your applications and software programs to ensure that they are completely secured.

Build a security culture

Provide proper IT security training to your employees and set clear guidelines regarding safe usage of the infrastructure. Make them familiar with the common online threats and what should be done to stay protected. This will create a strong security culture and help employees understand their responsibilities towards protecting the company’s resources.

Use secure socket layer

A secure socket layer (SSL) can add a layer of protection to your network infrastructure. It encrypts all the information while it is being transmitted between a user and the web browser. This ensures that the information being shared within your corporate network is not read, manipulated or used by any unauthorized individual.

Avoid adding complexity to your network infrastructure

Unless it is absolutely necessary for the optimal functioning of your organization, do not complicate your network infrastructure. Adding superfluous devices, servers, wireless endpoints etc. increases the chances of your network getting compromised. In case you need to add a network service, ensure that it is properly secured. This, way, even in the event of a breach, the functioning of your entire network will not be jeopardized. 

For more tips on securing your network infrastructure, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Fundamental Tips To Keep Your Network Safe

IT security is a pre-requisite for successful business operations. The present day online attacks are very sophisticated, hard to detect and can cause serious damage to the computers on your corporate network. Besides malware and virus infection, there are many other security threats, such as Denial of Service (DoS), spyware, ransomware, man-in-the-middle attack etc. Therefore, regardless of the size and type of your organization, it is important to take the necessary network security steps to protect your data from cybercriminals.

Discussed below are a few fundamental tips to keep your network safe:

Delete Unused Accounts

Email or social networking accounts that are not active should be deleted. Since these accounts do not have updated security settings, they are quite easy to be hacked. Make sure you timely review all your official accounts and identify as well as delete the ones that are no longer required. You can either perform this task manually or use a software to remove unused accounts.

Keep VPN Secured

If you use a virtual private network (VPN), you should keep it completely secure to prevent unauthorized access to your company’s internal network. Use the most advanced authentication and encryption protocols to monitor as well as regulate the network’s usage. You can even consider accessing the internet remotely so that your browsing details are not saved.

Be Proactive With System Updates

Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for security flaws in obsolete web browsers, plug-ins, software applications and operating systems that can be exploited for malicious purposes. It is therefore, important to update all the computer systems on your network on a regular basis. Software vendors frequently release patches and updates to fix the bugs as well as improve functionality of the applications. The IT staff should either enable automatic updates or download and install the latest versions from trusted sources.

Secure Your Router

Make sure that you change the default name and password of your router. The default credentials are quite common and can easily be decoded by the hackers. Create a strong and lengthy password as well as a unique username. Also, change the security level from WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) to WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or WPA2 so that only the authorized users have access to the corporate network.

We, at Centex Technologies, offer complete network security solutions to business firms in Dallas, TX. For more information, feel free to call us at (972) 375 – 9654.

Types Of Network Attacks

Network attack can be defined as an attempt to breach the security of a computer network in order to gain unauthorized access to the targeted device or exploit the vulnerabilities in the software applications. Without proper security measures, your network is vulnerable to different types of security threats, eventually causing it to crash. A network attack can either be passive (wherein the hacker may simply monitor and steal data stored on the computer) or passive (in which the information may be altered or destroyed).

Given below are some of the common types of network attacks:

IP Spoofing

A corporate or home network uses the IP address of a device to identify its entity and allow access. In a spoofing attack, the hacker may use a forged IP address to breach into a network in the guise of a legitimate user. He may alter, delete or destroy the data being shared in the network. He may also modify the source of the data packets so that they appear to be originating from another computer on the same network.

Sniffing

Network sniffing is the process of monitoring, capturing and intercepting the data packets traveling through an internet network. If the data is not properly encrypted and sent as cleartext, it can be easily read by the hacker. On the other hand, an encrypted data packet cannot be accessed unless the hacker has the key to open it.

Buffer Overflow

A buffer overflow attack occurs when the target computer receives more data/traffic than it is capable to hold, thus creating a lot of temporary files that overwrite the already existing valid data. The excess files usually contain a malicious code designed to carry out specific actions, such as deleting files, altering data or transmitting confidential information to the hacker.

Man In The Middle Attack

This is a form of session hijacking attack in which the hacker actively monitors, captures and controls the flow of information between the source as well as the destination computer on a network. The attack may be simply aimed at getting access to the information being shared or modifying it before being transmitted to the other end. In some forms of man in the middle attacks, the hacker may even disconnect the other user and completely take over the session to acquire sensitive information.

Centex Technologies is a leading IT company providing network security solutions to the business firms in Dallas, TX. For more information, feel free to call us at (972) 375 – 9654.