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Wayne Rash: How To Shop For A Small-Business Firewall

My friend Louise had a problem. Her financial conferencing company was growing to the point that she needed to add employees. One employee had to work remotely. The data she had on her network was getting more and more valuable. I could hear the concern in her voice when she called.
Clearly, her business had outgrown the simple wireless firewall/router that was currently connecting the business to her DSL line. Her question: what to do that would allow secure remote access while also protecting her business from the depredations of the barbarians on the Internet. She needed a better firewall, and she needed a remote access server that would support an incoming VPN.

Your business may not need to accommodate a VPN, but it's a certainty that you need a firewall of some description, even if it's a router set to default-deny. But for most companies, the real answer is a product that is secure and easy to manage. After all, most small businesses don't have a IT staff and can't afford to pay for unlimited consulting time. A practical solution has to be something that the person tasked with supporting the computers can manage without a lot of extra effort.

Fortunately, there are many firewalls that meet the minimum requirements. They are reasonably secure, and anyone with minimal training can set them up. In many cases, they can be purchased for around a hundred dollars at Circuit City or CompUSA. These firewalls are actually included in many wireless access routers from Netgear, D-Link, or LinkSys.

But many businesses need more. Not surprisingly, the same vendors make more advanced products.

Also, some enterprise firewall companies are making their products available in versions for small offices and home offices.

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