4 Common Mistakes in Firewall Configuration

by Brad Garland

A firewall is a great way to protect your organization, but it only works well if it is configured properly. Here are four common mistakes in firewall configuration, along with some tips for avoiding them.

1. Non-Standard Authentication Methods

Using non-standard authentication methods can put you at risk of a cybersecurity breach. When you don't use a standard method, you rely entirely on the expertise of whoever set up the firewall, or worse, on the default settings of the firewall. A better approach is to adhere to a recognized standard to give your computer network security a stronger foundation. 

Without a single standard authentication method, problems can arise when staff attempt to log in from different devices and locations. For example, a non-standard authentication method could allow weaker passwords or place less-strict limits on the number of login attempts. These security problems create opportunities for attackers to break into your network.

If your company has multiple locations or remote offices, ensure all locations follow the same standard authentication method. This will help to eliminate weak spots in your computer network security.

2. Open Policy Configurations

Firewalls that allow traffic from any source to any destination pose a security risk. IT teams often use open policy configurations when they aren't sure what they need, since starting with broad rules makes it easy to tweak firewall configurations later. However, too many IT teams never get around to defining more specific firewall policies, leaving the network exposed to risks.

Your IT team should give the minimum level of privilege that users and services need to function normally. Regularly revisit firewall policies to find out how applications are being used, so you can reassess the privileges they need.

3. Risky Management Services

Leaving unnecessary services running on the firewall compromises security. Common offenders are dynamic routing and rogue DHCP servers that distribute IP addresses, which can lead to IP conflicts.

Once again, the solution is to follow the principle of granting the lowest level of privileges required for the services to function. Configure devices based on the functions you need them to complete, since allowing too many services to run adversely affects performance and increases network load.

4. Failure to Log Outputs From Security Devices

Logging outputs from security devices means you'll be alerted if you're under attack. You can also use logs to investigate the breach. Finally, you can review the logs to help you develop better risk management solutions. Focus on logs for admin accounts, non-business hours, remote accounts and other high-risk areas to spot red flags.

Need help configuring your firewall? Contact Garland Heart today to find out how we can help.

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