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When is a Firewall Not Enough?

By Jolley | Hadaway | Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - Leave a Comment

Many new firewalls come with Intrusion Prevention Systems, but can’t replace the services of a MSSP.


A Jolley | Hadaway Article


ServIcons_ITAudit_01Many Clients ask a great question related to network monitoring.  The question goes like this:  Firewalls now come with various services including Intrusion Prevention Systems, (IPS). Why pay a firm like infotex to provide IPS if we can bring that in-house?  Can we cut that out of the MSSP engagement budget, and handle it ourselves, like AVS or Patch Management.

Our recommendation:  do both.  Pay the small subscription fee to have IPS on your firewall and run that BEHIND an MSSP’s service.

However, be clear that hiring a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) to provide IPS and relying on the IPS on your Firewall are two separate, distinct, and different layers of security.  An MSSP provides much more than IPS if your engagement is designed correctly.  But let’s just focus on IPS, as provided by infotex.

Unlike IPS provided as a part of your firewall subscription, IPS from an MSSP is a Managed Service, meaning we staff 21 shifts a week with seasoned data security analysts to watch the system in real time.  We ensure signatures are completely up-to-date and all operating systems are patched, etc. But more importantly, we watch the alerts, logs, warnings, etc. coming off the system in real time.  We correlate IPS events back to other precursors (such as event logs or current known attack vectors)  and we of course look for trends.

With an MSSP, a team of people is there to respond to the latest zero day attacks, learning from what we’re seeing on peer networks and in threat feeds as well as our Clients networks. Our staff can see the behavior of an attack that signatures have not yet been written to discover. This is the primary advantage of a managed service over an out-of-the-box IPS.

Rather than the Client having to handle tuning and retuning and updating everything related to the intrusion prevention system, we handle it. However, we definitely encourage our clients to run an added layer of protection such as an IPS on their own firewall, parallel to ours, as an added layer of security.

Many attacks do not arrive in nice easily packaged and predictable forms, especially when they first begin to arise.  Thus, having human beings watch the system–the fact that gray matter is involved in the response process 24 x 7 x 365–makes a managed IPS system far superior than one out-of-the-box.


Article by Dan Hadaway and Matt Jolley


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