Today in the present world a lot of information is generated and distributed throughout the digital network via different mediums. It’s a world of information technology where everyone requires information to be acquired or distributed in one or the other way. For every information to be utilised by the mass it must pass through a network which is secure and reliable, so that the end users get the accurate and relevant information. Moreover, whatever information available should not be corrupted as corrupted information is useless.
However, here’s the catch, no network is 100% secure and it is a fact, most of the network engineers out there may very well agree with it. So no secure network so no information must be transmitted through a network!! However every company is generating huge stack of information that grows by the day and there is demand for information in the world so a solution must be there. A way out of this was introduced, and this is what I was bluffing all the above about, a Firewall. A firewall acts as a filter between the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the network to which it is connected.
Let’s go into a deeper definition :
A firewall is a system designed to prevent unauthorised access to or from a private computer network. Firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorised Internet users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet (often described as intranets).All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified security criteria.
You need a firewall to protect your confidential information from those not authorised to access it and to protect against malicious users and accidents that originate outside your network.One of the most important elements of a firewall is its access control features, which distinguish between good and bad traffic.
Well, why is Firewall essential in the current era, have a look at some facts:
- The number of cyber attacks is going UP not down. Though white hat hackers continue to improve, the total number of cyber attacks doubled in 2017. That’s according to the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), which has named 2017 “the worst year ever in data breaches and cyber-incidents around the world.”
- Cyber-crime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion just a year ago. This massive amount of money represents the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history (2017 Cybersecurity Ventures).
- Financial organizations are the biggest targets of cyber attacks. Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Report breaks down the hacks by percentage: Last year, 24% of breaches targeted the finance industry, 15% were aimed at healthcare, 15% were retail, and only 12% of breaches occurred in the public sector
- 93% of breaches could have been avoided by taking simple steps, such as regularly updating software or leveraging modern cloud based solutions. Can you believe that breaches are easy to prevent? There is an old saying that “the best defense is a good offense”. It applies to the cyber security world too.
With so many security issues and many more that could not be listed over here prove that information security should be of utmost priority and concern.
Let’s get to the more relevant part, i.e., why do Institutions need a Firewall? Well, an Institute has a lot of students which usually nowadays require internet to learn new things and sharpen their skills so that they can shape their minds in the direction of the present technical and competitive world. The Internet is not a small puddle but it is a big Ocean that has infinite information which is not always on the good side. And to be honest not all students are sincere to check out only the bright side of the Ocean.
When talking about Institutes one would may only think of just simple students data that may not be of any benefit to anyone and so there’s no risk of any attack, however this is not at all true. Here are some cases that prove this wrong, in May 2015, Pennsylvania State University’s engineering school was the target of a cyber attack. The attack continued for few weeks before it was detected compromising records of some 18,000 students. In March 2014, University of Maryland’s network was the target of a cyber attack. It compromised 287,580 records of students, faculty, staff and other associated personnel. In July 2013, a cyber attack on University of Delaware exposed identities of more than 72,000 people.
The targets of these attacks are not restricted to the USA alone. In January 2012, the official website of King Saud University was hacked and data was dumped onto a file sharing site. In July 2015, six universities in Japan were attacked at the same time. Even as recently as March 2016, Concordia University in Canada was successfully attacked. All institutes around the globe are at risk. Most of these attacks (more than a third) were done by hacking or by malware and almost a fifth of those were done using a portable device. Apparently, even the sanctuary of education does not escape the evil eye of cyber criminals.
Digital risks at Institutes
Here are some reasons why criminals may attack an educational institute.
- Financial Data- Institutes store financial information of the students. Many students have direct debits set up for their monthly expenses. This requires the institute to store the bank details. This is valuable information in the wrong hands.
- Personally Identifiable Information- Students are not very particular about their online activity. They are also the ones with cleanest or blank financial credit records. Subsequently, they are a prime target for identity theft.
- Enterprise Data- Information on students, teaching staff, donors, complex schedule management, student registration information, course evaluation material, fund raising efforts and strategies are all valuable information. If this information is lost, the whole operation of the Institute can be crippled.
- Educational Data- Research material, class schedules and grade management system, testing systems, online evaluation (online assignment submission portals) are all critical for imparting education. Integrity and availability of these are vital for operations of the Institute.
Why most Institutes do not have a security system
Institutes host multiple departments. They are high paced, high mobility and high activity environments. Many people access multiple systems from multiple locations. Data necessarily flows in and out of the system. This poses challenges for the security of the system. Some Challenges are :
- Decentralized IT– Most of the departments in a typical Institute run their own IT systems. They have a wide variety of computer systems based on their requirements. Because of such diversity and spread of the network, implementation of security policies become difficult.
- BYOD(Bring Your Own Device) culture- Institutes encourage students to bring their own devices to store data. Students work in labs, in classrooms and at their residence on the same. They need to carry their data on USB drives and connect to whichever computer is available to them. Many students don’t spend on even basic antivirus and anti-malware software. However, they download free and pirated software. This malicious software passes into institute’s network the moment student’s infected device is connected to a PC on the network.
- Open networks- Most institute’s networks are open for any device to connect. This is done to implement the philosophy of freedom of information. However, this means the network access is not properly monitored for unauthorized access and it’s easy for viruses, malware and hackers alike to enter and create havoc on the system.
- Internal threats- Students are high on energy and like to try hacking the system. It can be a prestigious achievement for a student to hack their own institute’s database to change their own grades, or change their credits and courses enrolment. Some students may also hack network with the intention to cause harm to other students by deleting their data or reducing their grades.
Looking at the challenges, it can be seen that maintaining security at an Institute is not a piece of cake. However, just because of this it also cannot be neglected. A firewall would play a great role in providing security to the whole Institute as it can simply be installed as a gateway between the ISP and the whole network of the Institute and need not be configured in each system.
Information technology is an integral part of modern society and an important part of modern education. So much depends on complicated forms of hardware and software. Without the right protection, one virus or Trojan horse could cause massive damage to a school system. Both the students and your teachers are put at risk.So, a Firewall would help the Institutes to filter out only the information which is suitable and relevant for students and block all those nasty and dark things out there and also protect from any virus or Trojan attack, so that, the students grow in the best possible way and develop themselves for the outer world. A firewall not only blocks irrelevant information but also helps in saving the bandwidth provided by your ISP to the institute as it will block any unauthorised access to the network which would use the precious network bandwidth for some mischievous task.
Benefits of Firewall to students
Firewall in Network : Institutes are a place of safety for students. Most threats are physically stopped at the door, but some cyber threats will get in through your IT network.A network firewall will protect students from the growing world of malware on the internet. While our kids are usually well behaved, they can still get up to no good on occasion! Sometimes students need to be kept out of trouble and off social media at least during school hours. A network firewall can ensure this as well.
Cost effective network :Institutes’ IT network is like any large and diverse network; it’s intricate, connected, and has a lot of access points. Without a robust firewall, the network is vulnerable and will be attacked, requiring repairs.Repairs become necessary, making both time and money add up. Money taken out of the budget that could improve institutes’ facilities. Putting a network firewall in place saves money on the institutes’ budget and makes running the institutes more efficient.
Unhindered Work :Teachers and staff cannot do their jobs if they are maneuvering around IT problems day after day. Lesson plans come to a halt, department meetings stalled, it all comes to a stop. Ensuring an efficient IT network through a network firewall is key to a well-run institute.
At the end of the day too, staff are employees with personal information on their computers or other institute’s hard drives. Like any employer, an institute needs to keep its staff safe from harm as well. Teachers and staff will know the administration has their back.
Well we have heard a lot about firewall till now, but taking into account the amount of security a firewall can provide this also makes it difficult to install and configure it.Techmion is one company where the most difficult tasks are done with the most ingenious ideas and techniques.We not only provide world class Firewall systems but also configure it as per the client’s requirements and let the clients enjoy their internet experience with top class security.
Get a Firewall from Techmion and don’t worry about the cost as good knowledge is more valuable than a Firewall.