A DMZ network provides an extra layer of protection for servers connected to the internet. It increases the barriers a hacker must overcome to access internal systems.
A more secure way to create a DMZ involves using two firewalls rather than one. The first firewall is the frontend firewall and is responsible for traffic headed to the DMZ.
Among the benefits of a DMZ network is that it boosts security by creating a buffer between your computer systems and the internet. It provides internet access to web servers, email servers, and other public resources while firewalling them off.
DMZs also protect devices connected to the internet, such as intelligent industrial machinery or broadband routers connected to home networks. It helps protect OT devices from cyberattacks that exploit their vulnerabilities and can lead to costly downtime and loss of critical information.
In addition, DMZs often include a proxy server to centralize the flow of internal — typically employee — internet traffic and make monitoring and recording easier. It also increases the obstacles an attacker must overcome to access your private systems.
DMZ networks provide a way for businesses to access services outside the boundaries of their private internal network through the public internet. These services include mail servers, FTP servers, and proxy servers. Using a DMZ allows companies to provide consumers with these services while also implementing firewalls that limit the flow of information between the DMZ and their internal networks.
This approach increases the protection of the internal networks and makes it more difficult for hackers to penetrate them. It also helps prevent the spread of ransomware and other types of malware that often target industrial equipment.
When a cyber-attack occurs, it’s usually due to packet sniffing, when an attacker captures and reads network packets as they are being transferred between devices. It can reveal account credentials, personal data, and other information that could be used for illicit purposes. A DMZ can prevent this from happening because any connections to the DMZ are made through a firewall which requires a password and other security measures to be entered before the connection is permitted. A DMZ can also protect against IP spoofing when an attacker tries to bypass access control restrictions by falsifying the device’s internet protocol address.
Many businesses now use cloud services to support their IT environments, which leaves them with fewer internal network servers to protect. A DMZ network is an ideal solution to help maintain these systems without needing internal security measures and limiting access to sensitive files.
For example, if you use a mail server that handles incoming and outgoing emails for your company, it can be placed in the DMZ. It helps ensure your emails’ contents are private and reduces Internet access bandwidth requirements by caching web content centrally.
Another way a DMZ can help is by providing improved security for industrial control systems (ICSes) that are becoming more integrated with IT. These are often more vulnerable to attacks and can cause more damage if compromised. A DMZ can provide an extra layer of protection by placing these systems in the buffer zone. It prevents hackers from using these systems to breach your network by stepping through them first. Stealing your staff or customers’ account credentials and personal information is more problematic.
While DMZ networks offer a great way to monitor public-facing servers, they also have some downsides. For instance, they may allow for less flexibility with internal resources that must be connected to the internet. Additionally, the configuration of a DMZ network requires multiple sets of firewall settings to monitor traffic between the DMZ and internal LAN and the internet. It can be expensive and challenging to maintain over time.
Additionally, a DMZ network can be challenging to detect cyberattacks against. For example, a company may only realize it was hacked when its server ran out of space, but this can be extremely costly in terms of lost data or compromised workflows. As a result, companies should perform regular penetration tests and network audits to determine if a DMZ network would be appropriate for their infrastructure. The right solution could reduce costs and protect sensitive files and processes.
As more and more business applications are moving to the cloud, DMZs offer an easy way to control them from external threats. This approach combines two firewalls to create a secure space where internal servers and resources can be hosted. It means that if these servers are compromised, they will be less likely to spread malware or cause exposure or loss of information.
In addition, a DMZ network can provide an extra level of security for industrial equipment. While merging industrial technology (OT) with IT has made production environments more thoughtful and efficient, it has also enlarged the threat surface. Many OT systems connect to the internet but are not designed to handle attacks like IT devices. A DMZ network can help by providing increased segmentation between IT systems and OT devices, making it harder for ransomware and other threats to bridge the gap.
It’s also possible to include mail servers and a proxy server in a DMZ, which centralizes internal network traffic and simplifies the monitoring and recording of data. However, a DMZ network can only manage with additional support from a managed service provider.