A next generation firewall is a network security system that helps in managing inbound and outbound traffic to a website. It is guided by set security rules to allow or block a particular network traffic. It acts as a barrier between trusted internal networks and untrusted outer networks to determine whether a traffic can be allowed or denied.
One of the most trusted categories of firewalls are next-generation firewalls that offer features beyond stateful inspection and packet filtering.
Some of the core functionalities of a next-generation firewall system are integrated intrusion prevention, application awareness to block risky apps, regular path upgrade to incorporate future information feeds, and efficiency in dealing with evolving security threats.
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A firewall is a hardware/software system that helps in preventing unauthorized access to private networks that are connected to the internet. Data packets pass through the firewall, and are allowed to enter the intranet if they meet the listed security criteria. Firewalls are divided broadly into three categories by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 800-10:
Packet filtering Firewall
This type of firewall operates at the router level, and each data packet is received or dropped based on allowed IP addresses, port numbers, packet type, etc. The established security criteria is followed for letting an access into private networks.
It not only examines each data packet for established security criteria, but also inspects if the packet belongs to an established TCP session or not. This way, it ensures higher network security but network performance becomes an issue.
Proxys or Application Level Gateways
Application level gateways filter packets based upon their intended service and other characteristics, such as, HTTP request string. The intended service of a packet is determined by its destination port. It combines the attributes of packet-filtering firewalls and circuit level gateways to provide better network security.
The global firewall market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.35% to reach $9.15 billion by the end of 2020. Firewall installation is important for businesses to protect their network from unauthorized access and malware attacks. Various factors are leading to the expansion of firewalls market across the globe:
Next-Generation Firewall Technology
The firewall technology has become more flexible and secure with the advent of new application identification and control features. Firewall is now providing a strong line of defense in network security based upon set rules and policies.
Higher Incidences of Internal Threats
Organizations are now deploying firewalls for their internal network security between switches, back-end servers and trust boundaries. The strategic placement and management of firewalls have become important to prevent incidence of data theft.
Stringent Government Regulations for Consumer Privacy
Government regulations for securing consumer data have become more stringent now, causing the market of firewalls to thrive. Next-gen firewalls ensure better security of consumer data for enterprise with features like application inspection and control, website filtering, SSL inspection and deep packet inspection.
Firewalls are the key elements of security infrastructure in any organization. These help in securing sensitive data and reducing the incidences of cyber-attack. Here are the important features to look for in a firewall:
Use and Application Control
The advanced user and application control feature helps an enterprise in expanding user groups, TLS matches and domain names. The application control feature has moved beyond offering the visibility of ports and protocols to create detailed policies based on user role, identity and specific web applications.
A centralized firewall system helps organizations to deploy, view and control activities of component firewalls through a single frame. Routine tasks can be automated and shortcuts can be employed to witness maximum efficiency in network security with minimum efforts.
Plug and Play Deployment
The plug-and-play capability of firewalls helps in its easy installation at a remote location. With this feature, a firewall just have to be plugged in power within a physical network, and the rest is managed remotely. This helps in reducing implementation time, and upgrade tasks can be automated.
Active-active clustering of firewalls ensures uninterrupted operations even during system updates and upgrades. Clusters should be are upgraded node by node with different software and hardware variants and without any service break.
Data Packet Inspection
Data packet inspection feature helps in identifying viruses, spams, Trojans, and any intrusion attempt by examining various pieces of each data packet. This way, malformed packets, errors and anomalies can be identified with more precision.
With the multi-tenancy feature, inter-operable domain management abilities can be applied to different geographical locations and business units. This way, every entity can remain separate while enjoying the same situational awareness, automated functionality, and other features of next generation firewalls.
Advanced Evasion Technique (AET) protection helps in inspecting traffic across multiple protocols and layers to provide multi-layer traffic normalization. This feature helps in thorough data packet analysis without impacting the network performance.
Virtual appliances can deploy a comprehensive security infrastructure using different virtual machines. Each virtual machine can segregate security gateway configurations into separate instances to be managed on a single firewall appliance.
Enterprise Level VPN
Next generation firewalls feature IPSec VPN with a set of security protocols that is inserted at the packet processing layer. IPsec VPN helps in handling security arrangements without implementing any changes at individual computers.
The architecture of firewalls needs to be adaptable and convertible, so that you can deploy security effectively. A firewall with convertible architecture can also interchange its role as a layer 2 firewall and a firewall intrusion prevention system.
Having a personal firewall can help in keeping the systems of your organization safe from cyber-attacks. It is the basic tool for computer security that ensures internet border security in the following manner:
All traffic that enters a computer network is monitored by a firewall. It also monitors the traffic going out of your network. Information packs that are passed across networks are investigated for malware, errors or any other threats for your network security.
Trojan Horses make home on your computer files, and when you send files to different destinations, Trojans tag along to do more damage at destination points. But two-way firewalls can block Trojan Horses from the outset, preventing any chance of your files getting infected.
Keyloggers are spyware software that target the keystrokes of your computer to know what’s being typed. Keyloggers use this information to log in o your private accounts and replicate the same information somewhere else.
Keeping Hackers Away
Firewall security helps in preventing your computers from becoming botnets, used in spreading viruses. This security wall keeps hackers away from your network, so that there are no incidences of intrusions into your internet connection.
When selecting a hardware-based firewall, you need to consider these decisive factors:
When selecting firewall vendors, approachability is important to ensure easy installation, maintenance and troubleshooting.
A firewall hardware that supports SSL- and IPSec- protected VPN connections can help in establishing secure channels for remote connectivity.
While some firewall vendors provide a wide range of features at premium prices, while other offer a package of essential features at a lower cost. You can select between premium features and basic features, depending upon your organizational security needs. But make sure to go for trusted names in the field only to be sure about your network security.
Talk to the technical support team of firewall vendors to learn more about deployment and configuration. Also, their response time in case of unit failure can be asked beforehand, so that there is no delay or interruption in service.
For a firewall to manage assigned loads, it is important that it consists of an appropriate number of Ethernet ports with speed up to 1000Mbps, if required. It also needs to have the CPU capacity to perform gateway security services and packet inspection with accuracy.
The added WLAN functionality may seem an expensive affair in the beginning, but it helps in creating secure wireless connectivity when guest access or network flexibility is required.
In the time when cyber-security is a major concern, next generation firewalls can provide the best network security solution. Firewalls keep away unauthorized users, and prevent any attempt by malware to retrieve data from your network for sending it to the third party.