Startups and small business owners may find that the challenges of creating and maintaining an IT department can be daunting. Having a safe, secure, and reliable IT infrastructure on-site that is appropriately staffed with knowledgeable employees can be expensive. To some degree, there are many components of your IT network that cannot be moved off-site, however, what if you could maintain some of your network security apparatus through a 3rd party cloud service? 

Firewall as a service, often abbreviated as FWaaS, is a cloud-based firewall solution that can allow businesses to simplify their IT infrastructure. This specifically could be extremely convenient for startups and smaller businesses that may lack the capital to maintain their own entirely in-house IT infrastructure. FWaaS provides next-generation firewall capabilities including intrusion prevention. DNS security, advanced threat protection, and web filtering.

Using a FWaaS has many additional benefits aside from being more cost-effective. Since a company’s firewall then would be entirely cloud-based and managed through a specialized 3rd party, the firewall can be perfectly assembled according to size, demand, configuration, and specific security requirements for the company’s network.  

Additionally, as the company grows, the FWaas can easily scale immediately whereas a business may take much longer to scale as they would need to make significant investments, hire staff, develop policy, and implement action plans that could take months or even years to accomplish. With FWaas, the infrastructure needed for a  potential expansion is already in place.   

How does FWaaS function? 

A FWaaS is a security layer that functions between a company’s network and the internet. The firewall essentially filters all network traffic to protect the company from internal and external cyber security threats. A FWaaS can do this by filtering packets, monitoring the network, securing socket layers and virtual private networks, and through Internet Protocol mapping and security.  

As the firewall is monitoring a company’s network traffic, it can analyze data located in the header of each individual data packet. The header may indicate specific information detailing where the packet came from and if it could potentially be a threat. Additionally, an FWaas may also have the ability to conduct a deep packet inspection that looks at the data within the packet. This additional inspection may be able to identify threats that are well-hidden deep in a data packet.  

As more companies are deciding to go with a cloud-based FWaaS provider rather than manage their firewall security in-house, the advantages and disadvantages of using a FWaas have become more apparent through the experiences of these companies. Let us take a closer look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using a FWaaS as a business owner, whether the company is a startup, small business, or a medium-sized corporation. 

Pros and cons of using FWaaS cloud-based provider 

There are many advantages and disadvantages of using a FWaaS that many entrepreneurs may want to be aware of when they are creating their startup or looking to scale their business. Overall, there may be many more advantages than disadvantages, however, all aspects should be examined before making the decision of paying subscription fees to a FWaaS provider or keeping your network security apparatus entirely in-house. 

Advantages of using FWaaS  

Easy to scale

If your business is expanding with rapid growth, you do not want to stunt that growth by not being able to keep up with your network’s security demands. Or even worse, expand your business but not have the proper safeguards in place to protect your network and its users. Scaling your FWaaS is incredibly important as your business grows. Not only is it important, but it is easy. All it takes is one phone call or meeting with your FWaaS provider to discuss what your needs are. The FWaaS provider should already possess the capacity needed to expand alongside your business and to constantly adapt to your constantly changing needs. 

The same is true for a business that may be downsizing or a business that may find the FWaaS subscription package they are paying for is too much for what they need. As a FWaaS has the ability to scale up instantaneously, they can scale down instantly as well. If you decide to keep your firewall management entirely in-house, you may have to hire new staff and make large infrastructure investments which can be expensive and time-consuming. And, if you should happen to over forecast demand, then you may be left with expensive infrastructure and staffing that proves to be unnecessary. Also, if you need to downsize, then you may need to lay off employees and sell unneeded IT equipment for a fraction of the original investment. 

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Much more flexible 

By using a FWaaS provider, the amount and types of security that are required for the composition of your company’s network are entirely customizable.  

Simplified network management 

If you have an in-house firewall system, deploying a new security tool or package of security tools can take time and money. With a FWaas, again all you need to do is express your needs and they can instantly deploy any network or security tool that you would like. Additionally, if you do not know what you need or you are unable to keep up on the latest network security developments and tools, your service provider can keep you well-informed and make suggestions about which new tools may bring benefit to your organization.  

Unified security policy

Using a FWaaS cloud-based provider allows your company to maintain a unified security policy that will be the same for every branch, store location, or for work-at-home employees. 

Disadvantages of using FWaaS 

Network latency concerns 

Some business owners and IT departments may be concerned that running a firewall through a cloud-based service provider may slow down network performance and cause issues across the entire network that may not be a concern if the security apparatus was kept entirely in-house.  

Resistance to a new way of doing business 

FWaaS is still a new concept for many business owners who have been operating for many years. They may be more skeptical or unsure of making such drastic changes to an in-house network security model that has worked wonderfully for them for years.  

Privacy concerns 

Some businesses possess large amounts of data that may be considered sensitive or even classified if they are working with defense contracts. Because of this, some business owners may be extra wary about having the security of their network and its data managed by a cloud-based service.  

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