Let’s start with the basics: a firewall is a network security device (either software or hardware) that oversees network traffic. It evaluates each connection and decides whether to allow or block it based on a defined set of security rules.
However, the threatscape is busier and more dangerous than ever, and cyberattacks have become more sophisticated. As your system experiences more attacks, you need to know how to keep your equipment updated.
Just like computer operating systems, firewalls reach an end of life. After that point no more security patches and updates are coming out. And this leaves your company’s front line of defense against cyber threats vulnerable. So, when should you replace your firewall? Here’s a few guidelines.
The firewall uses outdated technology
The lifecycle of a firewall is generally between five to seven years. If you’re using a firewall for longer than that and intend to use it until it breaks, you need to reevaluate the equipment you have.
There could be bigger problems than just it breaking. Beyond that, you can have your files impacted by ransomware. Also, your data corrupted, or your IT infrastructure could get infected, which could necessitate a server overhaul. So make sure your firewall has the current security definitions and can cater to your company’s needs.
Without upgrades, your aging firewall will usually not be able to do that. Especially if you have a lot of sensitive information to keep out of hackers’ hands. So if your firewall is older than five to seven years, it’s time to upgrade it.
The vendor no longer supports the firewall
Another red flag is when the vendor no longer offers customer support. Thjis is sort of obvious, but when the vendor decides they’re not creating any more security or firmware updates, you can’t get the latest and greatest security definitions on it.
If you don’t have customer service for a firewall, you lose claims for damages if your business gets hit by hackers. Without the latest security definitions, you’ll be vulnerable when a hacker with better tech than you decides to burrow into your infrastructure.
Your business needs have changed
The last sign that shows you need to upgrade your firewall is simply, if your business needs have changed. There may be internal factors that come up, and you need to upgrade. It may even be that your firewall isn’t near its’ EOL, but rather your business needs have changed. Network capacity upgrades, for example.
Why would you need to replace your firewall if it isn’t older than 5-7 years?
When a new generation of firewall comes out, the new model has important security updates, patches, and features. Things the older versions can never get. This makes them obsolete and less secure. And be careful. If you buy a firewall on the last year of its life, the new generation product that replaces it will have more security features and measures in place.
A few other reasons
When you start paying a meaningful premium on support over what it costs for the new model, it might be a good idea to consider replacing. It can actually cost more to contue upgrading/renewing an older one than just buying new. Vendors sometimes have really good promos that incentivize upgrading to new firewalls.
Another reason is that does not have features that support future network initiatives and/or business requirements. Things like Zero Trust Network Access. In other words, it isn’t future-proof.
Lastly, from a technical standpoint, the firewall should be replaced or upgraded when CPU usage is high throughout its uptime, and can’t sustain its throughput properly.
In a nutshell, when your firewall just can’t keep up (traffic throughput lags behind). Or, if it allows security issues through that could affect your business. There is a misguided IT culture out there that insists on replacing all the time. But honestly, your organization should ask itself, “Why? What is the risk and business impact?,” and when it is high, replace at that time.
It may be helpful for you to work with an IT company that specializes in firewall management. It shouldn’t be on the people of an organization to keep tabs on the life cycle of their firewall. They need to focus on keeping their business running efficiently.
You don’t want to expose your business to security threats and should always keep your firewall updated. Part of reducing downtime in your company and having peace of mind is knowing everything is secure. If you have any questions, you know that Corporate Armor would love to answer them for you. Just reach out here or call us at 877-449-0458.
When should you replace your firewall?
- Are you paying more on support than what it costs for the new model?
- Is it no longer supported by the manufacturer?
- Is it more than 7 years old?
- Even if it isn’t EOL, have your evolving business needs outpaced your firewall’s speed and feature set?