Protexure Accountants Blog

Accountants Cyber Security: Firewalls

Cyber Security for AccountantsToday, firewall protection is a basic need for both business and home networks. Since most computers come with some type of firewall protection right out of the box, many people do not see the need to invest in additional protection.

Although some networks can be adequately protected under basic firewall protectionmost cannot. This includes any CPA firm, no matter the size. Use the information below to find out what kind of firewall your firm needs. 


What is a firewall? 

The simplest way to define a firewall is that it is a barrier that controls what comes into your computer from the outside and vice versa. In other words, a firewall's primary job is to prevent access to a private network (your computer or office network).

When you access the Internet, your computer takes in and sends out data in the form of 'packets'. These packets contain vital information about the data they contain such as where the data comes from and where the data is going (on your computer). The firewall examines the packets to determine their safety, and will then allow the safe packets while discarding the unsafe ones.

A firewall is busiest and most needed when the user is using the Internet, but it is an application on your computer that should be constantly running. 

How to choose the right firewall protection

Firewall protection can come in the form of a program on your computer (software), a physical piece of hardware, or a combination of both. With a variety of products available ranging from basic to extreme protection, it is likely that you can find a product that fits your needs at a price you are willing to pay. Some of the factors you may want to consider in choosing a product are the following: 

Size: Not every firewall product is equipped to protect a network of computers. Make sure that each product you are considering has the capability to protect the number of computers used at your firm. Remember to always check that your firewall can function properly if you add more computers to your network. The size capacity of a firewall product is indicated by its RAM storage capability. RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and is directly relates to how many computers a firewall is designed to protect. The more the RAM, the more users the firewall can handle. For a firm with less than 50 employees, a firewall with about 10 megabytes of RAM (or even a little less) should meet your needs. 

Security Level: This is where technical terms come into play. The basic security certification that is considered appropriate for most small networks is called ICSA. Any other security certifications are helpful, but you should consider ICSA a necessity. 

Support: Name brand does come into play when choosing a firewall product. In the case of a software crash or hardware problem, Customer support is available for most software's that are purchased. Many brands provide installation services and on-site technical support. Therefore, research the brands to make sure their customer service is reliable before purchasing their product. 

Price: There is a reason why price is at the bottom of this list. Protection is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to sensitive and confidential documents and client information. Therefore, the price should not be a main concern when evaluating firewall protection. Use the above factors to determine a price range, and try to get the best product available. It will be worth it in the long run. 

What to do after you are protected?

Once your firewall protection is in place, you will have established the first line of defense against individuals attempting to access your network without permission. However, there are countless other ways to strengthen your network security. 


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Posted by Pat Cosulich

As Chief Information Officer of AmerInst Professional Services, Ltd., Pat Cosulich is responsible for developing a systems platform to provide superior service to small to mid market firms. Prior to joining Amerinst, Pat was Vice President of Insurance Business Development for Outline Systems Inc., a specialty insurance software provider. In over 20 years with CNA, she was responsible for developing specialty web platforms, as well as policy and claims systems. In addition to significant experience in systems development, Pat has a deep understanding and expertise in Professional Liability.


Published In: Practice Management, Data Breaches, Cyber Security