As technology evolves over time and new software solutions come up, it’s natural for a company to want to upgrade its existing security resources, especially the firewall.
The problem, however, is that migrating to a new firewall vendor is incredibly challenging because all seven OSI layers need to work well, starting at the physical connectivity and ending at the application layer.
If even one of these layers malfunctions, it will effectively be the same as not having a firewall up at all. Then, of course, there are the problems that start showing up right after a migration.
No matter how smoothly and perfectly the process may go there were always be sync issues as the existing technology starts adjusting to the new one.
In this article, we are going to share the process of a successful firewall migration and give you tips that should help you migrate without getting a migraine.
Firewall Migration Procedure
These are the 7 steps you need to employ for a successful migration:
1. New technology training
The worst thing you can do during the process is to jump at the opportunity to replace your old software with the new one without first bringing your team up-to-speed with the ongoing changes.
What happens if something goes wrong during the migration and no one has any idea how to fix it? You will be stuck in a dead zone where the older software no longer works, and the new one can’t be implemented properly, leaving your network highly vulnerable to attacks.
To avoid this, make sure everyone on your team gets extensive training, is introduced to the new technology, understand the different features, and learns how to configure them.
2. Review existing firewall
Firewalls tend to bloat over time as more and more policies and rules are added to the database. The result is that a lot of information manages to get through which would otherwise be blocked.
This is why you do not want to switch over to the new technology without first reviewing the current one. Many good firewall management tools such as Checkpoint Smart Center will let you do this operation in a few clicks.
3. Initial dry run
You will have no idea how long the actual migration will take and what kind of tools it will need until you go through a few dry runs.
Take some time out and plan a test migration using the original configuration of the existing firewall. This lets you test out the features without actually migrating to the new technology.
Most of the basic setup can also be prepared during this phase.
With a basic setup ready and the new configuration prepared, you can start testing the overall system extensively.
Prepare a test list that details the kind of tests to be run and their expected results. The main focus here is on ensuring that the system will continue to work effectively even if a few elements break down.
5. Configuration testing
This is the most crucial part of the project since the configuration needs to go smoothly for a successful migration.
Here, we highly recommend that you keep a backup plan ready just in case anything goes wrong and you need to revert to the old technology for a while.
6. Actual migration
Make sure you schedule this event during a routine maintenance window and whatever you do, DON’T tell your customers that you are upgrading your firewall. Just tell them the network was down because of a maintenance break.
The people who do need to know about the migration, however, is the team responsible for your networks. They will need to test all the applications both before and after the migration, so everyone should be present and ready while the process is going on.
7. System Monitoring
Finally, once the new technology is installed and everything has been implemented as required, the monitoring phase starts where you ensure that the migration was successful.
It’s important to remember that no matter how well you implemented the 6 steps above, there will always be problems that you’ll need to take care of. It is just the nature of the task.
Make sure your team is on-hand to solve all issues that exist, and do not stop the monitoring phase until you are 110% sure everything is working as it should. Sometimes, this can even take months, but it is an essential step.
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