NGFWs provide ‘defense in depth’ security accessible to businesses of all sizes
Situated between the cabin and engine compartment of most vehicles is a thin metal panel known as a firewall. This shield is designed to protect passengers from flames in the event of an engine fire or explosion. Network firewalls are built with the same goal in mind: to provide protection from external threats.
Out of the box, a traditional firewall is programmed to block nearly everything and everyone from gaining access to a network and is only made permeable by the addition of security rules that scrub traffic port, source, destination, and activity information. Even with meticulously curated rules in place, not all firewalls are created equal, and experienced bad actors are increasingly adept at finding chinks in the armor of today’s networks. Implementing a next-gen firewall (NGFW) provides enhanced protection compared to traditional firewalls, ensuring sensitive information remains in the right hands.
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What is a next-gen firewall?
Gartner defines NGFW as “deep-packet inspection firewalls that move beyond port/protocol inspection and blocking to add application-level inspection, intrusion prevention, and bringing intelligence from outside the firewall.”
To put it simply, NGFW security features are significantly more thorough than those found in a traditional layer-3 firewall that is only capable of blocking or allowing traffic based on IP address. NGFW incorporates features such as content and device filtering, application-based rules, packet inspection, and intrusion detection and protection systems (IDS/IPS) to analyze the contents of data packets and determine if they contain malware or cyber threats.
The shrewdness of next-gen firewall vs. traditional firewall doesn’t stop at active packet inspection. NGFW threat intelligence can also be updated to identify and stop newly emerging threats that have not yet targeted the network, and trust levels can be adjusted based on unique user behavior.
Why enterprise businesses use next-gen firewalls vs. traditional firewalls
Although many of the applications used in business today may seem innocuous, malicious actors are savvy and capable of infiltrating networks in new ways such as through unsecured vendors or even rogue code in the macros of data spreadsheets. Understanding the traffic that travels across your network is key to identifying vulnerabilities, but as networks become more distributed and complex, assembling a clear picture of existing security and its weak spots can feel daunting. Luckily, a NGFW’s ability to recognize and analyze applications is unmatched.
As applications and network access move closer to the edge, networking and security become increasingly intertwined. In fact, equipment such as LTE and 5G SD-WAN routers are now functioning more as security appliances than as data manipulation hardware configuration hardware. When equipment like a 5G router functions as a security service edge (SSE) solution, its SD-WAN security capabilities allow for central policy orchestration, meaning the information gathered through NGFW deep packet inspection can be easily applied to security policies in one spot, creating broad visibility and control of the network.
Other shifts in enterprise business networks, including in-vehicle connectivity, a more remote workforce, and the use of hybrid WAN solutions that support both wired and cellular broadband, means networks are accessed in more diverse ways. Because of this, they require a next-gen firewall to provide consistent, exhaustive security management.
Enabling NGFW, SD-WAN, and edge routing with as little hardware as possible
When comparing next-gen firewall vs. traditional firewall, NGFW not only provides a superior security solution against cyber attacks, but it is also more accessible to a wide variety of businesses compared to a traditional firewall.
In their early years, traditional firewalls were cumbersome, rack-mounted pieces of hardware usually installed only by large enterprise businesses because of the cost, space, and IT and security support required to manage them. This left many medium and small businesses more vulnerable to cyber threats because they simply didn’t have the physical space or staff to properly support a firewall.
Today, next-gen firewall software is typically included in routers straight out of the box. You’d be hard-pressed to find a 5G router without it. By including these in-depth security features in branch office, vehicle, and IoT routers, advanced security is accessible to businesses of all sizes — even those who can’t afford a staff of IT professionals. Through a single compact router, companies can access cellular broadband, establish SD-WAN policies, and perform wireless edge routing functions on a secure network.