What is a Next Generation Firewall?

We all know a firewall is a barrier built between user network traffic and the outside environment. This barrier enforces certain security policies. But like any other barrier in the real world, even a firewall can be breached if an equally competitive or stronger threat is posed.

The Capital One Breach

The Capital One breach from 2019 was one of the biggest hacks ever. The breach compromised more than 106 million customers’ personal information. Businesses of all sizes are targets. Therefore, it is vital for an organization to have robust security policies and firewalls to protect their customers’ data.

Firewalls need to be capable of detecting and protecting against the threats at endpoints and within processes. It is also extremely important that a network’s traditional firewall is constantly updated to ensure maximum protection and address evolving security threats. This is where Next Generation Firewalls come in.

A Next-Generation Firewall

Conventional firewall software offers dynamic packet filtering (stateful inspection) of traffic on the network. Traditional firewall technology enables or disables website traffic based on state, port, and protocol and filters web traffic based on the rules defined by the network administrator. This operation occurs at only the Network Layer and the Transport Layer of the OSI model. Traditional firewalls also offer network address translation, which hides internal IP addresses from the internet.

But this is not enough. A conventional firewall can only be effective against conventional attacks. It may lack deep-packet inspection and only detects suspicious activity using a predefined blacklist. A next-generation firewall (NGFW) does this and a lot more. In addition to offering accessibility control, NGFWs can block present-day dangers such as sophisticated attacks on the application layer.

According to Gartner, a next-generation firewall should have the usual firewall capabilities as discussed above plus intrusion prevention to address advanced persistent threats. In addition, it must have application awareness and have controls to find and obstruct risky apps. The firewall should also have sources for threat intelligence, the ability to upgrade paths to include information fed in the future, an intrusion prevention system, and strategies to respond to evolving security hazards.

How Do I Pick a NGFW for My Business?

The very best next-generation firewalls offer five core advantages to companies, from small businesses to big enterprises. These features are a must in whichever NGFW you get for your network:

Strong Against Breaches

The No. 1 job of a firewall is to stop breaches and maintain your company’s safety. But since safety nets will never be 100 percent efficient, your firewall should also have advanced capabilities to rapidly discover advanced malware that may escape your front-line defenses. Purchase a firewall that:

  • Prevents attacks before their execution with integrated intrusion prevention
  • Has a built-in next-generation IPS, or threat intelligence, to find sneaky threats and stop them early on
  • Can filter millions of URL links by enforcing policies
  • Contains integrated sandboxing and updated malware defense that continuously examines file actions to promptly spot and remove risks
  • Includes an international threat record that provides the firewall with the latest intelligence needed to identify emerging threats

A Good Eye

If you can’t see something, you can’t protect yourself from it. An NGFW needs to continuously monitor network activities to spot and stop unusual behavior quickly for consistent security. If you can identify where a particular stream of traffic is coming from, you can define policies to regulate traffic. Your firewall program needs to have a holistic view of all activity and complete contextual understanding to see:

  • All active applications and internet sites
  • Communications between online devices
  • Malicious activity across devices, networks, hosts, and users
  • Where the threat came from, when it arrived, where else it went on your network, and what it is currently doing

Customizable Features for Flexible Deployment

Regardless of the size of your organization, your firewall needs to fulfill your unique needs. Here is what you should be able to customize:

  • Choice in management – either on-box or central monitoring across appliances
  • Choice in deployment – either on-premises or in the cloud through a virtual firewall
  • Choice in throughput speed – Choose a firewall that can handle your Internet speeds

You can also create custom policies to setup rules tailored to your use case scenario.

Lightning Fast Detection

IBM recently reported the average lifecycle of a breach is 280 days. Early detection of threats is key to ensuring minimum damage to your organization. Therefore, a good third generation firewall must:

  • Detect threats in a few seconds
  • Find an effective breach within minutes or hours
  • Make it a priority to alert you, so you can take swift and specific action to eliminate the threat
  • Deploy a regular policy that is simple to maintain and automatically enforced across the entire organization

Automation and Product Integration

Your next-generation firewall should not be working alone. It should be able to communicate and interact with the rest of your security architecture. Moreover, it should:

  • Support seamless integration with other tools
  • Immediately share threat information, policies, and event data
  • Include contextual threat source information like web, email, or endpoint
  • Automate security jobs like policy monitoring, updating the threat database, and user identification.

Ready to Deploy a Next-Generation Firewall?

Next Generation Firewalls are simply more intelligent than the traditional firewalls. They can apply security policies on users, URLs, geographic locations, applications, and IP addresses.

Our IT security services include updating, monitoring, and maintaining firewalls. Which means we’ve found the best NGFW solutions for businesses of every size. We can help you evaluate and select the right solution for you.

Do I need a Managed Next Generation Firewall?

Next Generation Firewalls are great at protecting your network, but they require routine monitoring and maintenance. As part of our managed security service, we keep your firewalls running at peak performance.

With cloud-managed firewalls, we can monitor and respond to threats remotely. This makes IT security effective and cost-efficient. Contact us today for a free network security assessment.

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