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Unless you’re under a rock, you know that the WannaCry Ransomware cyberattack swept worldwide headlines last week.
Organizations scrambled to apply the latest Microsoft security patch to their computers to prevent the spread of the attack. It’s estimated that the ransomware attack hit more than 300,000 victims in 150 countries.
There is an old riddle about firewall management -
Question: What goes in but never comes out?
Answer: A firewall rule!
Most organizations have well established methods and procedures for adding rules into a firewall, but very few organizations have strategies for removing rules that no longer serve a legitimate business purpose. If you are a firewall administrator, see if you can remember the last time someone in you company called you and said, Hey, remember that rule I had you add 6 months ago, I'm done with that project now, you can delete the rule. Contrast that with how often you have been told, You have to make this change right now, the business depends on it. It's no wonder firewall policies grow out of control.Of course, there are many reasons a firewall rule becomes obsolete:
Regardless of the reason, rules that no longer serve a business purpose should be removed to both reduce policy complexity and remove the risk associated with the access. Consider an application in the DMZ that has been taken off-line and the firewall team was not notified. Some days or months later, that IP address is reused for a new system. Whatever access was permitted to the old system is now open to the new system putting it and the organization at risk.
Of course the best solution is a business process that ensures this never happens. It is worth pursuing this and making rule expiration, rule review and a comprehensive rule aging process part of firewall management. However, it is also worth implementing a technology solution to identify any rules that slip through that process.
Identifying unused rules or objects is difficult as they are not technically incorrect and static analysis of a policy will not reveal the problem without tremendous environmental knowledge. To identify these rules and objects, it is necessary to analyze the active policy against the actual network traffic patterns. By associating firewall access logs with the rule that generated them, it is possible to identify most used rules, which objects are used in a rule and perhaps most importantly, which rules are never used. Once identified, these rules can be removed to reduce policy complexity and improve security.
By no means is this sufficient to fully clean up or validate a policy. Just because a rule is in use does not justify the access it permits. However, this is a very good step in cleaning up a firewall to remove the access that is neither used or needed.
So you’ve purchased a new firewall. Now what?
You’ve got to decide which access is allowed, which isn’t allowed and whether or not rules are compliant with internal and regulatory standards.
Things are running along smoothly and then the dreaded “change.” A user submits a new access request and the fun begins. Is this access necessary? Safe? Compliant? And what happens when it’s time to retire unused rules?
How Effective Security Management Can Help Teams Cover the Exponentially Increasing Gap between Technology & the Resources Available to Manage It
Security teams today are under tremendous pressure due to the rising frequency and impact of breaches and a business that wants to move faster and faster. The answer to both of these challenges has always been to add more technology and staff resources.
However, each new technology added creates complexity. More rules are created and more data is generated. As networks continue to evolve, this complexity will only grow. And while staff resources may increase, they will never match the exponential growth of technology.
FireMon calls this phenomenon The Complexity Gap and has set out to help security teams close it.
Join us for this webinar with Frost & Sullivan where we’ll explore the causes of “The Gap” and how workforce multipliers such as intelligence and automation help staff manage their security more efficiently and more effectively.
Helping Enterprise Security Teams Improve Resource Efficiency & Reduce Overall Risk Exposure
Firewall technology has come a long way since its initial, most rudimentary forms. Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) are the latest development, and organizations are accelerating adoption to the new technology. But NGFWs aren’t a fix-all solution.