Firewall Management in the Pandemic

Firewall Management

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Covid-19 has disrupted the way we work unlike never before on a global scale. The need for operational agility has stretched some IT infrastructure and service capabilities beyond planned limits, leaving many companies struggling to adapt whilst remaining secure!

The emergent challenges we see include:

  • IT Specialist Skills shortages – The UK’s digital skills shortage is acknowledged by British Employers Federations, only 50% of whom believe young people are leaving full-time education with sufficient advanced digital skills to enter the market place.
Firewall Management
  • Employee Resource constraints – Due to budgetary challenges, many businesses have reduced their headcount in order to survive the pandemic. This has resulted in overworked employees with an ever-growing workload and increased technical debt with quick fixes and patches standing in for platform investment.
  • Remote working – The ‘new normal’ of remote working has resulted in a hackers’ paradise, with many companies expanding their infrastructure without secure end point and policy protection in place. A recent example being the ransomware hack on Colonial Pipeline by Dark side. With more of Colonial’s engineers accessing the control systems for the pipeline remotely, Dark side were able to buy account login details for remote desktop software and exploit the system. The repercussions of the attack are still prevalent today with US fuel prices at the pump still at an extortionate rate of six cents per gallon.

There are opportunities to ‘embrace’ this step change with confidence:

One of the key areas of concern is the management of your firewall estate; without a properly managed and up to date firewall policy, there is no clear boundary between “inside” and “outside” your network. The filtering provided by a firewall solution ensures that anyone inside your network including roaming home users can easily access external services but prevents external computers from initiating connections to internal computers, unless they meet specific access requirements.  

Throughout the pandemic The FBI reported a 300% increase in the number of cybercrimes, from about 1,000 cases to between 3,000 and 4,000 cases each day. The opportunity is now for businesses to revaluate their firewall management. Investment is paramount to ensure secure infrastructure and end point protection especially as more businesses move to hybrid and office working.

One way to mitigate the risk is outsourcing to dedicated specialists.

Using a trusted third party to manage your firewalls bring a host of advantages, including:

  • Reduced risk of your environment being compromised.
  • Active management of new software releases by each firewall vendor.
  • Cost effective particularly when compared to the cost of remediation.
  • 24/7 ‘Eyes-On’ approach from qualified security analysts
  • Adherence of Best Practice security protocols and recognised standards.
  • A trusted source to update you on new products and services to protect your infrastructure.

How do I choose the right Firewall service provider?

Choosing the appropriate company to manage your cybersecurity effort is always a challenge as you are entrusting the integrity, reputation and operational processes to a third party. Managed Services Providers have been asked to ‘go the extra mile’ to assist their clients during this transitional period and for some, service levels have been compromised. Despite the disappointing levels of service received, customers by and large have stuck by their MSP’s, as the idea of changing suppliers during this period stood little chance of being approved by their Management Board, whose priorities have been focused on maintaining business as opposed to improving operational efficiency.

As we emerge out of lock down, we anticipate those dissatisfied customers reviewing their existing MSP contracts and checking the market for alternative suppliers. In addition, those who have struggled to manage internal solutions are looking for improved cost-effective options.

How have Zuri adapted to their clients Firewall needs?

At Zuri we have taken a very hands-on approach to understanding our clients changing business needs throughout the pandemic, whether in finance, fintech or retail sectors.  We have adapted to change in Client needs and to the external environment by:

  1. Increasing our Strength and Depth – Adding more security vendors to our supported vendor list.
  2. Improved Response & Resolution –  Updated our ticketing system to Dato/Autotask, streamlining our processes and reducing implementation times from notification to remediation by 50%. 
  3. Strengthened our SOC Team Allowing clients to call directly through to our 24/7 support team who ensure that issues are fully understood and turned around as soon as possible. We put our client needs first no matter the time, without ever compromising on compliance.
  4.  Instilling constant improvement – Using best practice and an agile approach to stay ahead motivate our teams to excel and keep our clients secure.
  5. Automation – Standardised our automation playbook to streamline efficiency across the teams and to eliminate human error during change management.

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