How to Identify Potential Malicious Attacks on Firewalls

Firewalls are an integral part of a network’s safety and security, and this is why they are often considered as the pillar of any cyber security program. Firewalls constantly face a barrage of attacks from different sources ranging from automated programs to experienced hackers. Though the firewall is constantly blocking unauthorized attack from unknown sources, it is nevertheless important for network managers to stay on top of their firewall performance. This helps them to identify and mitigate the effects of potential malicious attacks.

Logs Have All the Information

The first place to look for in case of an attack is the logs. Every login and activity performed on the network is recorded in the log files, therefore, look for the source of the problem in these log files. This will give more insight into the nature of attack and from this information, it is possible to know which parts of the network could be possibly compromised. Further, these log files will have information about the source of attack and this can help to identify the perpetrator as well.

Port Scanning

Hackers use port scanners to identify open ports on the firewall through which they can attack the network. In the case of potential malicious attacks, you should scan the log files for requests that came from the same IP to multiple ports. The firewall system is designed to block multiple requests from the same IP and information about these requests will be available in the log files. This will give you more insight on the source of the attack and more importantly, you can block this IP from accessing any part of your network in the future.

Understand Traffic Patterns

It is easy to identify whether the network is compromised when you know the traffic patterns. Knowing the regular bandwidth usage and the number of connections or packets transmitted per second gives a good idea about the normal traffic on the network. When these rates are much higher than normal, then it is time to examine the network for a possible security breach. To get more information about the nature and source of attack, you can go back to the log files again.

Intrusion Detection Systems

Intrusion detection systems constantly monitor the network and alert you when there is a breach. It monitors user and system activity, assesses the integrity of critical information, analyzes traffic patterns, audits the system to identify problems with configurations and its resulting vulnerabilities and provides a statistical analysis of patterns that match previous attacks.  It creates an alert immediately after it detects an attack. However, it does not block traffic even if the request is from an unauthorized source.

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