5 Firewall Threats and Vulnerabilities to Look Out For

by Tashina

Firewalls are at the heart of any organization’s cybersecurity architecture. But we should not consider them as the ultimate security solution for a business’s cybersecurity needs. Firewall security is useful but you cannot solely rely on this one security tool due to a number of concerns.

Let’s look at five such firewall threats and vulnerabilities that one must look out for.

Missed Security Patches

This issue arises if you are unable to properly manage network firewall software. Just like any other software program, firewalls can also have vulnerabilities that attackers try to exploit. When a firewall vendor discovers a vulnerability, they try to fix them and roll out patches after a secure code review. However, a firewall does not automatically get patched with the release of new patches. You may have to apply it to your firewall software. Until then, the vulnerability still exists and a hacker could exploit it any time.

The best way to deal with this is to create and follow a patch management schedule and apply patches regularly according to it.

Insider Threats

Firewall security generally protects you from attacks originating from the outside. So what will happen if you have insider threats? At this point, a perimeter firewall is useless.

With that said, internal firewalls that are on top of perimeter firewalls can be useful even if an attack originates from inside the network. They help to divide individual assets in a network which makes it harder for a hacker to move from one system to another.

Inability to Conduct Deep Packet Inspection

Next generation firewall security uses deep packet inspection mode which examines the contents of an information packet before allowing or rejecting it to pass to or from a system. However, less advanced firewalls only check where a packet’s origin and destination points before allowing or denying their request. A hacker could potentially spoof this information and trick a firewall that lacks deep packet inspection mode.

To avoid this, it’s recommended to use a firewall that can perform deep packet inspection.

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

DDoS attacks can overwhelm a target’s resources and either cause a shutdown or prolong their inability to function. One such category is protocol attacks that aim to drain  load balancer and firewall security resources so that they are unable to process legitimate traffic.

There is no easy fix for this. But some cybersecurity providers offer scrubbing services by diverting incoming traffic and sorting legitimate traffic out from it.

Mistakes in Configuration

Even with a firewall correctly patched, it can still create a problem if it is not properly configured. This can lead to the firewall failing to protect and result in loss of performance on the company network. For instance, dynamic routing is not generally recommended as it reduces control and, in turn, security. However, some organizations still enable it.

Emerging Firewall Vulnerabilities

Overview: As technology evolves, so do the tactics and techniques of cybercriminals. It’s crucial for organizations to stay updated with the latest vulnerabilities in firewalls to ensure robust protection.

  • Zero-Day Exploits: These are vulnerabilities unknown to the vendor and are thus unpatched, making them prime targets for hackers. Regularly monitoring cybersecurity news and forums can help organizations become aware of these threats.
  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): These are prolonged and targeted cyberattacks where hackers infiltrate a network to steal data over time. APTs often exploit firewall vulnerabilities to gain initial access.
  • Evolving Malware: With the rise of AI and machine learning, malware is becoming more sophisticated, often designed to exploit specific firewall vulnerabilities.

Best Practices to Address Vulnerabilities in Firewalls

Overview: Addressing vulnerabilities in firewalls requires a proactive approach, combining technology, processes, and people.

  • Regular Vulnerability Assessments: Conducting regular checks on the firewall’s configuration and software can identify potential weak points.
  • Penetration Testing: This involves simulating cyberattacks on the organization’s network to identify vulnerabilities in firewalls and other systems.
  • Stay Updated: Ensure that the firewall software is always updated with the latest patches and security updates.

Case Studies on Firewall Vulnerabilities

Overview: Real-world examples provide valuable insights into the consequences of not addressing firewall vulnerabilities and the strategies to mitigate them.

  • Company A’s Data Breach: Detail how a renowned company faced a significant data breach due to an unpatched firewall vulnerability, leading to financial and reputational losses.
  • Organization B’s Ransomware Attack: Discuss how vulnerabilities in firewalls allowed ransomware to infiltrate an organization’s network, crippling its operations.

Future of Firewall Security

Overview: With the digital landscape constantly changing, it’s essential to anticipate future challenges and trends in firewall security.

  • Adaptive Firewalls: The rise of AI-driven firewalls that can adapt in real-time to threats, learning from traffic patterns and adjusting rules accordingly.
  • Integration with Other Security Tools: Future firewalls will likely be part of a broader security ecosystem, integrating seamlessly with intrusion detection systems, anti-malware tools, and more.
  • Cloud-native Firewalls: As more organizations move to the cloud, there’s a growing need for firewalls designed specifically for cloud environments, addressing the unique vulnerabilities in firewalls for cloud infrastructures.

Firewall Vulnerabilities in IoT Devices

Overview: The proliferation of IoT devices presents unique challenges, as many of these devices lack robust security features.

  • Inherent Vulnerabilities: Many IoT devices come with default passwords or outdated software, making them easy targets.
  • Network Segmentation: One way to protect against vulnerabilities in firewalls of IoT devices is to segment them from the main network, preventing potential intruders from accessing critical systems.
  • Regular Updates: Just like any other device, IoT devices need regular software updates to patch any known vulnerabilities.

If you want to know more about how you can ensure strong network protection for your business, contact Aardwolf Security now for a network penetration test quote.

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