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MERIT

NEWS ARCHIVE
A Firewall For All

Palo Alto Firewall is a keystone for a strong security structure.

The safety and well-being of staff and their families should be the highest priority for institutions facing the work-from-home environment. With that peace of mind, a close second is evaluating and improving the defense against the relevant new risks to the network. Remote-work based factors are compounding network threats daily, setting a perfect stage for propagating elements not typically considered. This includes the use of at-home streaming services, non company secured computer usage, and improper process implementation. Leveraging the creation and execution of proper security practices among teams is really important, and a key factor to a more secure environment is utilizing a modern and relevant firewall service to remediate long term remote connectivity concerns and significantly reduce security risks.

With ever-changing challenges in mind, Merit’s Information Security team outlined a few common issues our members and staff are facing in the new remote landscape:

Controlling personally owned vs. company owned computer usage is a growing issue. Many staff members lack built-in security features on their home computers that could be monitored and enforced by IT administration. Home computers may have outdated and vulnerable versions of software, in addition to being a support nightmare for IT staff due to the lack of standardization.

While utilizing cloud-based services are great for work or entertainment, consumers should always question privacy policies, identify where data is being stored and whether encryption is happening at rest or in transit. Cloud services should give us the same level of logging and visibility that traditional systems do, but it does require more investigation. Often we rely on cloud applications being closely guarded, but in reality it may not be the case. Even the cloud provider may not be aware of vulnerabilities providing golden opportunities for attackers. As data owners, we take on 100% of the responsibility, no matter where our information is being held.

How long will this remote situation continue? Should suggested security measures become requirements closer or further down the road, if at all? No matter what changes we make to our infrastructure as a result of remote work, it is critical that we take a few moments and ensure that our Disaster Recovery (DR) plans keep up. Disaster Recovery planning and people management go hand-in-hand — what use is a DR plan if staff don’t understand how to implement it? Review plans now, getting your new processes and edits vetted by all levels of staff impacted. Without this — including getting the acceptance and buy-in of your technical staff — your next minor disaster could turn into a major one due to lack of preparedness.

In addition to creating educational content and resources to assist in remediating issues with running a business remotely, Merit has partnered with Palo Alto Networks to provide free proof-of-concept demos to our membership in order to strengthen their security posture during this time of increased remote access.

Being aware of security pitfalls in operations is crucial. With the need for awareness and actionable steps in mind, the Palo Alto Firewall solution is designed to combat unauthorized access to networks and ensure that vital data is kept safe. As a fully managed service, Merit Network handles the installation, configuration and maintenance of these next-generation security products. Bundle options are fully customizable and tailored to each institution, providing the best protection at a competitive, cost-conscious price.

Membership reviews found the ease of use and integration of the next generation Palo Alto Firewall as highly sought after positives, and appreciated the opportunity to evaluate the solution at no cost for 30 days. Palo Alto is recognized as a leader by the Gartner Network, positioned highest in ability to execute and furthest in completeness of vision for enterprise network firewalls.

Let’s be clear: inept security measures can be catastrophic. With proper planning in one hand and a strong firewall service in the other, Merit is confident that through partnerships like Palo Alto, we can create an environment that is more dynamic and secure for our membership.