Cyber breaches pose severe risks, including heightened business costs and reputational harm. Explore how firewalls, evolving since the 1980s, serve as a critical component in bolstering organizational resilience against cyber threats.

How to Build Infrastructure Resilience with Firewall Security

Cyber breaches have serious consequences, including increased costs of doing business and reputational damage. For public companies, these can even mean significant stock price drops. Also, they can lead to the complete shutdown of a business. One study from a few years back showed that around 60 percent of small businesses fold within six months after suffering a cyber attack. As such, there is a need for organizations to develop resilience.

Building infrastructure resilience is a broad topic. For this discussion, the focus is on firewall use. Firewalls have been around since the 1980s, designed to examine packets of data exchanged between computers to detect and prevent the spread of malicious files. Over the years, firewalls have evolved to address new kinds of threats that target network connections.

Here’s a brief guide on how to make your organization’s IT infrastructure more capable of withstanding cyber attacks mainly through proper deployment.

Identify security requirements

Firewalls are not a comprehensive security solution, but they are a crucial component of security systems. To identify the security requirements related to firewall use, start by examining the network architecture. Identify the critical network assets, traffic entry points, as well as potential choke points. Make sure all areas that facilitate traffic have adequate firewall security.

Next, determine the sensitivity of data and classify them accordingly. Do this in line with data regulations. Find the data that require more stringent firewall controls and network traffic that could potentially enable the introduction of malware and other attacks. Additionally, identify the dependencies between apps, network components, and services. This is important to maintain the balance between security and performance. Overdoing firewall constraints can impact the functionality and efficiency of critical applications.

Identifying security requirements is a cornerstone of resilience. It would be difficult to put up the necessary defenses efficiently without knowing the security concerns. Organizational resources are always limited, so it is crucial to apply them appropriately to maximize outcomes.

Take advantage of next-generation features

As mentioned, firewalls have evolved to effectively address new security challenges, thus they have now become an essential part of an organization’s cyber arsenal. The rise of Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) offers a host of new security-augmenting features such as threat intelligence integration, app-aware traffic filtering, user identity awareness, and sandboxing. 

Advanced firewalls can compile up-to-date threat information from various sources to detect the latest threats. They can also identify and control applications at the protocol and application layers (application awareness) to enable more precise control over network traffic. Additionally, NGFWs are capable of identifying users, not just IP addresses. This allows the firewall system to impose custom security rules and access restrictions according to user identities. Meanwhile, sandboxing enables the analysis of suspicious files in an isolated and controlled environment. This is an important feature in addressing zero-day threats and concerted attacks that employ advanced strategies.

Next-gen firewall features provide better protection for networks, especially the more advanced threats. They are built in response to advanced and emerging threats that are unlikely to be detected and prevented by unconventional systems. They are essential in the attack prevention front of infrastructure resilience efforts.

Implement network segmentation

Segmentation refers to dividing the network into zones or segments according to their security requirements. This is done to efficiently apply security controls for a range of endpoints, services, and network components. More importantly, segmentation makes it easy to isolate parts of a network where an attack successfully penetrates. Instead of shutting down the entire network, only the affected portion may be suspended to be subjected to thorough mitigation and remediation efforts.

The most common segment classifications are as follows: internet network, DMZ, guest network, IoT network, and administrative network. The internal network is the trusted segment, which has all of the critical assets and resources of an organization. The DMZ is an isolated segment usually intended for publicly accessible services. The guest network, as the phrase suggests, is intended for guests, allowing them to access data and resources that are not considered sensitive or private.

On the other hand, the IoT network is a relatively new classification created for IoT and other smart devices that are usually difficult to manage because of their number and unfamiliar setup. IoT devices are quite prone to attacks since they usually do not have internal security controls, so it would be better to prevent them from connecting to segments that house sensitive resources. Lastly, the admin network is for administrative access to network management dashboards and device management interfaces.

The segmentation or zoning of networks is important for infrastructure resilience because it supports the efficient application of security controls and makes it easier to mitigate and remediate an attack. It allows organizations to address an attack more rapidly and restore operations as quickly as possible.

Observe high availability

HIgh availability in cybersecurity refers to the continuous functioning and reliability of network security services such as the firewall system. It is about having failover mechanisms to make sure that failures in the security tools do not result in the cessation of cyber defenses. Top-of-the-line firewall systems usually come with high-availability features to enable seamless switchover or backup mechanisms.

Firewalls can have high availability through the implementation of redundant firewall pairs, wherein multiple firewall systems are deployed in a redundant configuration to provide uninterrupted protection whenever there are system failures or during maintenance activities. There are mechanisms such as heartbeat monitoring and state synchronization to allow the mutual monitoring of firewall operations so that their roles can be taken over by backup systems if ever they fail.

Resilience does not only mean the ability of the infrastructure to recover from an attack. It also requires that the security systems protecting the infrastructure operate without interruption. If there are issues encountered, there should be a backup system to take over or the cyber defenses should recover as quickly as possible.

Conduct continuous monitoring

While a properly configured firewall usually does its job reliably most of the time, it is still important to continuously monitor the firewall system. The firewall and network traffic logs need to be tracked continuously to spot anomalies or unexpected behavior. It is not completely inevitable for sophisticatedly aggressive attacks to penetrate defenses. These instances should be detected and addressed. It is important not only to monitor the health and performance of the IT infrastructure but also the state of the firewall system.

Monitoring is a key aspect of infrastructure resilience. It would be difficult to respond to and recover from a cyber attack without being aware of the attack. At this point, cybersecurity is still not fully automatable even when aided with highly advanced machine learning systems. Human cybersecurity specialists still have to be on the lookout for issues, malfunctions, and defects.


Organizations can achieve IT infrastructure resilience by focusing on the following key areas: threat prevention, attack isolation and mitigation, rapid recovery, and monitoring. It is important to have a clear grasp of security requirements to ensure that all attack surfaces are adequately covered and all threats prevented. If threats manage to breach security controls, there should be ways to contain and remediate them without causing disruptions in the system. Organizations also need to implement high-availability measures for the infrastructure and the security solutions protecting the infrastructure. Lastly, continuous monitoring should be implemented to always be on top of threats and issues, and to make sure that defects and new forms of attacks are addressed in a timely manner.