What is Next Generation Firewall?

  • April 15, 2023
  • By Cyberarch Admin

Cyberattacks in recent years have grown in sophistication. Thus, business organisations need to adopt correspondingly superior security solutions and advanced defence measures. 

In a majority of enterprises, the security infrastructure is filled with niche and traditional solutions to fight against cyberattacks. One of the major challenges is the lack of communication or feedback on critical data between the different solutions. This is where Next Generation Firewalls can play a huge role in providing a single point of visibility for a wide range of security functionalities. 

A Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) can be defined as a solution that has superior capabilities and characteristics to protect the networks than traditional firewalls. The typical firewall is known for detecting suspicious traffic and blocking access. However, the next generation firewalls help cybersecurity programs through intrusion prevention, deep packet inspection, content filtering, application control and much more. Plus, NGFW helps security professionals to manage network traffic better.

All in all, the integration of Next Generation Firewalls into cybersecurity initiatives boosts modern cybersecurity capability. 

Find out in-depth about firewalls, NGFW and its capabilities, features to look at before buying NGFW, and much more below.  

Understanding Firewall

A firewall is a traditional network security device that chiefly monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic. In simple terms, the firewall acts as a boundary where the threats are identified and blocked according to the predefined rules. At the same time, it checks and allows the passage of harmless traffic through. Thus, as you can see firewall boosts an organisation’s security by filtering traffic. 

Firewalls are part of network systems since the 1980s. Initially, they began as packet filters that examined packets between two computer systems. Although firewall has evolved in the past many decades, the key principle remains the same- which is to provide network security, reinforce network policies and protect devices behind a firewall. Different types of firewalls include Packet Filtering, Proxy Service, Stateful Inspection and the latest Next Generation Firewall. 

Now an important question arises – Why do you need a firewall in your computer system? Well, your network system needs to constantly protect and defend against different types of malware. Thus, a firewall can help in safeguarding the network against different types of malware that includes viruses, Trojans, spyware, worms and ransomware. 

Besides, the firewall is a necessity to comply with regulatory standards that instruct basic protection measures to fight against cyber attacks from the internet and other environments. 

How Next Generation Firewall Works

The traditional firewall inspects and limits the traffic types but is unable to detect modern threats. Next Generation Firewalls build on the traditional firewall. What makes it stand out is the operation at the application layer of the TCP/IP stack. This helps in implementing Intrusion Prevention System (IPS). Thus, by assessing application traffic and decrypting encrypted traffic; NGFWs can detect a wide range of modern threats. 

One of the primary benefits of NGFW is that it can identify and block advanced-level threats before they can affect enterprise systems. This is made possible by using machine and user identity in the security policy. Plus, there are other advanced NGFW capabilities such as antimalware programming, sandboxing and other myriad network protections.

It is necessary to choose NGFW with the highest capabilities as the threat landscape is evolving at a rapid rate. Find out what features you should look for while choosing and buying the best Next Generation Firewall. 

How to Select Next Generation Firewall 

First, find out what are the best practices to choose a Next Generation Firewall.

  • Business organisations should look into their requirements and objectives before deciding on NGFW. Consult a wide number of vendors as you would do for technological tools. Here are a few of the best practices you can follow.
  • Next Generation Firewall performs a wide range of networking and security functions for a business enterprise. Thus, taking suggestions and advice from different departments such as cyber security, application, virtualisation and others can help reach a consensus about the requirements.
  • Many popular and trusted companies provide NGFW. This includes solutions from CISCO, Palo Alto Networks, Sourcefire, and Fortinet. However, the features differ. Therefore, the business should consider all their respective features and choose the best one that suits the requirement. 
  • While choosing the NGFW, remember the professionals and team members as they are ultimately going to use it for network security. Specific needs such as analytics in real-time, monitoring and controlling applications and other technical requirements must be met.
  • Performance issues will arise in an enterprise network due to NGFW. Therefore, make sure to know about the processing performance and resiliency. One of the factors to keep in mind is the design which should be in keeping with the future trends. 

Capabilities and Features to Look for in NGFW

  • Management

Good management is vital for an enterprise firewall to be successful. The Next Generation Firewall features can be valuable and effective if there is a strong management structure and policies. Some of the things to be considered include the best tools, the ease of use, policy implementation, threat detection and incident response life-cycle management, allocation of duties, the appointment of an administrator and defined roles, compliance, audit, validation and reporting.

  • Threat Prevention

As discussed before, the major feature of NGFW is threat prevention. Besides the hardware, the NGFW should be capable of combating and preventing threats like viruses, phishing and bots. Businesses should look to choose a vendor that provides cloud-based analytics and threat intelligence features packed with NGFW. The threat intelligence feeds provide information about new attack vectors and campaigns. It helps NGFWs to use Indicators of Compromise or IoCs to block new threats eventually assisting in building a highly resilient and secure system. 

  • Inspection and Control

Applications today have become superior and sophisticated. Thus, firewalls also need to be advanced to identify them. As businesses look to buy NGFWs, special consideration must be given to choosing one that supports as many applications as possible. Moreover, they should be intelligent, deep and dynamic.   

As the internet is fast undergoing a revolution with cloud-based technology and other policies, firewalls today should be in sync with users focused policies. 

  • Advanced Functions

Next Generation Firewalls support an extensive range of services. This, in turn, requires a significant amount of resources related to memory and computation. Lack of proper resources can affect application performance and user experience. There are different ways to handle this problem. However, each of them has advantages and disadvantages. Thus, businesses need to choose a vendor that can provide the right balance fulfilling their requirements. 

  • Encrypted Traffic Inspection

A majority of web traffic generated is encrypted. However, cybercriminals leverage the latest technology to develop phishing sites trusted by browsers. Thus, firewalls need to identify such traffic and prevent threats. Plus, selective decryption is also necessary to let harmless traffic flow through.

As cyberattacks become sophisticated, automated and organized to gain access to business enterprises, blocking and defending against them has become essential. However, it is important to note that a traditional firewall may not be capable to detect and prevent modern threats. NGFWs consist of strong security protocols and can act as a robust first line of defence to combat advanced threats. Experts also believe that including NGFW in the network segmentation strategy can prevent threats as well. 

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