As businesses migrate to the cloud, are firewalls still necessary?

One of the biggest benefits that migrating to the cloud offers enterprises is cost-related, thanks to a flexible ‘pay as you use’ model and reduced infrastructure costs, not to mention the increased collaboration, efficiencies and productivity related to the cloud.

But what about security? Because of the rise of cloud computing tech experts have been predicting the death of the firewall for years. It’s certainly true that cloud providers like Microsoft, Google and AWS offer enhanced security options. Because of this – and coupled with SLAs that promise to keep your services safe, secure, accessible and always operational – many organisations are comfortable with the idea that they no longer need to maintain expensive on-premise security when they can simplify and strengthen their security posture with cloud.

We are often asked the question: now that we are in the cloud, do we still need a firewall? And the answer is yes, you absolutely do.

Data in the cloud may be secure, but what about devices?

Cloud security is designed to protect your hosted environments and data from unwanted access, but what about your existing network infrastructure? Every device that accesses the Internet is vulnerable to attack.

Consider the daily activities of employees. Yes, at some point they are accessing company data – the data that you are comfortable is safe and secure thanks to advanced cloud security protocols.

However, they are also checking emails, visiting websites, searching news stories and updating Facebook. Not every site they visit will be secure and not every email containing malicious software will be recognised and blocked.

What happens when one employee accidently downloads malware to their device and gives accesses to secure data in the cloud?

Even though your cloud environment could be secured, the device connecting to it isn’t. Without a network firewall, any data exchanged between a server and a device can be intercepted by malicious cyber-criminals.

Solutions that suit real working conditions

Fortunately, there is a solution. Advanced firewall solutions remain critical, because they provide organisations with advanced perimeter network security against cyber threats, even when data and workloads are sitting comfortably in the cloud.

But what is an advanced firewall solution? As we know, the traditional idea of a ‘network perimeter’ has changed. Employees aren’t all sitting in an office together and leaving their devices behind on their desks each evening. They are working from home, accessing the cloud from other networks – including hotels, client offices and personal WiFi networks – and working from multiple devices.

Boundaries have become almost infinite and networks and devices must be protected whenever and wherever employees are working , regardless of what device they use. This means your business needs a solution that protects:

  • Your cloud environments (public, private or hybrid)
  • Your network perimeter (potentially global in scale)
  • Each employee’s internet access

Multi-tiered defence for a complex cyber world

There is no doubt that moving to the cloud improves cybersecurity, but it’s equally clear that a single solution won’t work when we consider all the ways employees are using their devices in the modern working world and how fragmented the networks and devices are that access a company’s information.

Here are the key reasons why an updated firewall solution is still an essential element of any network security plan:

Firewalls offer protection from incoming threats: A firewall monitors your network traffic and looks for anything suspicious that may want to disrupt your system or destroy your data.

They can prevent a company’s data from being stolen: Firewalls block suspicious outgoing connections by controlling which programs have access to the internet, preventing information leak and theft.

Antivirus doesn’t prevent invasion or theft: Antivirus software protects files from new and known viruses – but it only works on the files that are already in your network and without a firewall, there are multiple breach points when devices are accessing new data and files.

Prevention is as easy as doing a penetration test. By conducting an internal vulnerability assessment/ network scans/internal penetration test, we aim to identify the technical control weaknesses in an organisation and make relevant recommendations.