Working From Home: How Confident Are You in Your Firewall?

While it's true that most ISPs have some level of filtering, it's wise to invest in a reliable firewall.

By now, most of us are well acquainted with the obvious perks of working from home (flexibility of time, improved work/life balance, and increased productivity).  

But did you know that hackers are also reaping the benefits?  

With so many personal devices now connected to company networks (or company computers that you take home), hackers are eager to use those work-from-home laptops to gain access to every device in the company – and possibly endless devices beyond that. With that kind of access, they can do all sorts of nefarious things.  

So the big question is: how confident are you in your firewall?  

While it's true that most ISPs have some level of filtering, blocking nefarious activity before your internet even reaches your home, it's wise to invest in a reliable firewall.  

If you already have, good on you! Celebrate with your preferred baked good.  

If you're not sure how good your firewall is – or you're not even sure what a firewall is – keep reading.  

What is a firewall?  

A firewall is like a net in a river. It's designed to catch certain things but let everything else pass right on through.  

In the case of the net, maybe you're trying to catch salmon.  

In the case of the firewall, you're trying to catch any activity that looks to be up to no good.  

Firewalls are barriers of protection between two or more separate networks – for example, between the public internet and your home or business. And you want a boundary between the public internet and your home or business; you employ systems that you don't want other people to have access to.  

If you don't have a firewall, hackers can get to your files, get to your printer, and get behind the scenes to find an unused port on your computer. From there, they exploit. They hijack. They run all kinds of commands, using your machine to access additional networks and then additional networks beyond that.  

Hackers want to use your computer to do something somewhere else. It's a ripple effect, and you don't want to be a part of it.

The Most-Reliable Firewalls

Choosing the right firewall matters, too. Big box stores sell several options, and while those are certainly better than nothing, they don't tend to be the most reliable. There are great options for not a lot of money.

Some firewalls also feature intrusion detection, which reviews activity logs and identifies potential risks. That might be someone trying to send a whole bunch of login requests or other attack patterns. A firewall will pick up on those patterns and alert you.  

If your company has an IT department, first ask them for a recommendation on what they buy for a firewall.

If you're on your own, here are a couple of affordable brands we recommend:

1. Ubiquiti
Solid wireless access points that easily integrate into one of the following firewall solutions.
Learn more:

2. PfSense

One of the best firewalls on the market and works well out of the box with little configuration.  Can easily handle home traffic or encrypted traffic to your work network if needed. There are several models to choose from but unless you are using more advanced features, the 2100 series is perfect. Want to splurge? Go big with the 3100 series.  

Learn more:

3. TP Link

Learn more:

A lot of teams are working from home – upwards of 62 percent of working adults ages 22 to 65 claim to work remotely, at least occasionally, according to a recent survey. This shift has financial benefits for businesses, too. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that employers can save over $11,000 a year per employee, thanks to the lower cost of office space, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and less turnover.

Working from home isn’t going anyway. So let’s keep the perks aplenty and the risks at a minimum.  

If you have any questions about your company’s security for teams that work from home or in an office – reach out to us.

For additional pointers on keeping your data secure when working from home, read our blog:  
Securing Your Remote Workforce

Brian Gagnon

Brian is a technologist with 25 years of experience building, scaling, and optimizing business ecosystems at companies that include HGST/Western Digital, VMware, and Computer Sciences Corporation.

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