Since the mid-90’s, most organizations—even SMB—have deployed firewalls as a standard security tool, which begs the question, why does a customer need a next generation firewall (NGFW) as opposed to their current (and potentially less expensive) firewall?
Just as you probably couldn’t imagine running your business via flip phone anymore, next generation firewalls are the advanced iteration of traditional firewalls, with more features and benefits. Like the flip phone would provide you with basic cell service and—if you’re extremely patient maybe an SMS text—a traditional firewall would still be functional—but only as a bare-minimum solution. Using a smart phone ensures you have access to applications and features that we’ve come to rely on, like syncing your iPhone with your car for a hands-free experience or accessing the internet on the go. Similarly, next generation firewalls provide you with increased protection a traditional firewall cannot, such as the ability to block malware from entering a network.
The ever-increasing complexity of modern cyberattacks and hacking have driven the need for beefed up security technologies. There are significant gaps in security coverage that your customers are vulnerable to despite having a traditional firewall in place. Malicious emails and phishing schemes for example leave a customer’s network susceptible to infiltration, since these attacks are hidden within the content itself and are typically delivered, undetected by a traditional firewall.
Additionally, the explosion of IoT devices and the overall Digital Transformation of an organization add numerous vulnerability points that a traditional firewall has no hope of mitigating. Customers in the process of digitally transforming their businesses, processes, and tools should be counseled to evolve their security protocols at a similar if not more aggressive pace.
The bottom line comes down to decreased risk and increased benefits, which can easily be summarized in five points:
1. Comprehensive network visibility
A network should always be monitored in order to identify potential problems and/or bad behavior by users in real-time, so that it can be stopped immediately. Most NGFW solutions provide a view of activity as well as a full contextual awareness that allow users to see where and when a threat originated, where it’s been within your network, and where it’s doing now. They will also allow insight into active applications and websites, communications between virtual machines and file transfers as well as threat activity across devices, users, hosts, and networks.
2. Advanced threat protection
NGFW includes optional services such as integrated intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion protection systems (IPS) that identify potential attacks based on threat signatures, abnormal network activity and analysis of traffic behavior, enabling more thorough inspections as well as improving packet-content filtering of network traffic.
Anti-malware and anti-virus are also available on the network level; the appliances running the network such as routers, switches and servers, are targets as well. Anti-malware on the firewall in combination with anti-malware at the user endpoints can drastically increase visibility and protection to a customer's network.
Next generation firewalls include not only traditional, zone-based firewall protection, but also antivirus, anti-malware and intrusion protection and protocol filtering. Additionally, IDS (intrusion detection systems) and IPS (intrusion protection systems), as mentioned above, are used to detect attacks based on abnormal activity, threat signatures and behavior analysis, offering increased packet-content filtering of network traffic to the application layer.
4. Streamlined management
While traditional firewalls are managed individually and configured manually, next-generation firewalls can be monitored and updated from a single pane of glass portal, decreasing the bandwidth strain on a customer’s IT department.
The lion’s share of next generation firewall providers offer flexible and scalable deployment options to meet the needs of customers of all sizes. Customers can choose from a centralized manager or an on-box manager; they can also be deployed either on-prem or via a virtual firewall in the cloud.
For your customer—and their IT department—a traditional firewall, like that flip phone, can leave holes in a customer’s security posture. Next generation firewalls are more intelligent and provide organizations not just with greater security, but additional efficiency and flexibility to protect and defend the business as it grows.
Get more information on Next Gen Firewalls and other security solutions from our Security ebook.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Marketing Communications Manager, Amanda is responsible for creating content and carrying out internal and external communications programs; she also develops educational materials to enable TBI’s partners to sell emerging solutions. Amanda also contributes to ensuring consistency with branding and ensuring TBI provides useful and relevant content to our partners. You can reach Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.