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Survey: Half Of Firewall Rules Improperly Configured

Firewall administration, auditing still mostly a manual process, leading to errors and breach risks

Most organizations are still struggling to keep tabs on their firewall operations and changes in the network that require writing new firewall rules, a new study released today reveals.

Around 85 percent of the 100 network administrators surveyed in Tufin Technologies' 2011 Firewall Management report say that half of their firewall rule changes eventually need to be fixed because of improper setup. Just 7 percent say their firewall audit processes are automated, and 40 percent say they spend a month or more per year on handling firewall audits.

“We were surprised to learn that half the sample is still doing basic tasks manually, such as tightening up permissive rules, looking for shadowed rules or recertifying rules," said Shaul Efraim, vice president of marketing and business development at Tufin. "There is no benefit to having experienced administrators spend their days searching for needles in haystacks."

Close to half of the respondents pinpoint redundant rules manually, while 20 percent have no process for finding these redundancies. Around 43 percent say they manage firewall rules manually, and 41 percent say they don't have a way to determine when a firewall rule must be retired or fixed.

More than 20 percent say they knew of someone who cheated on a firewall audit, mainly due to lack of time. And 23 percent have never performed a firewall audit at all.

Close to 30 percent say it takes them several hours to change a firewall rule, and some 66 percent say their change management processes leave their organizations prone to breaches due to lack of formal processes (56 percent) aor nd manual processes with too many steps or people in the process (29 percent).

“Despite our success, this survey reveals the maturity curve for Security Lifecycle Management is still on the upswing,” said Efraim. “Without process automation, auditing network security systems -- especially as organizations continue to use more firewalls in virtualized environments and embrace Next Generation firewalls -- is simply not possible. 60% of the sample cited lack of time as the weakest link in their network security. If that is not business justification for automating fundamental but time consuming, error prone, network security processes, then what is?”

Tufin conducted the survey online. Forty percent of the respondents work for companies with up to 500 people and 30 percent with more than 5,000, in the telecommunications, financial services, energy, pharmaceuticals, and transportation industries.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Senior Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise Magazine, ... View Full Bio

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