There is a new wave of enterprise firewall on the market, dubbed next-generation firewall (NGFW).
A traditional firewall is usually defined as a device that is able to control the flow of traffic in and out of the network. These typically can only track traffic on layers 2-4.
A NGFW can do far more than this. Although specific vendor offerings do differ, there are a selection of features which are generally seen as standard.
Application awareness and control:
The biggest difference between a traditional firewall and a NGFW is application awareness. Traditionally, firewalls relied on common ports to monitor for attacks. NGFWs monitor traffic from layers 2-7, then determine if the traffic being transferred is malicious or otherwise.
By being application aware, the NGFW can allow for application control. The NGFW can track the identity of the end user, typically using Active Directory (or similar). The IT department can set usage controls in place, depending on both the application and the user, to control the traffic entering and exiting the network and what the user may send and receive. For example, Facebook may be allowed, but videos prevented from playing. This type of control can also reduce bandwidth requirements, saving valuable resources for use elsewhere.
A NGFW can limit traffic to approved applications only, mitigating risks from obscure applications. This can also cut down on bandwidth usage.
A next-generation firewall is an all in one solution. The best offerings come complete with anti-virus, spam filtering and deep packet inspection, amongst other protections. IT can manage one device, rather than having to keep bolting on and updating new devices.
Traditional firewalls can throttle the speed coming through the network. The more protection services added on, the more the speed coming into the firewall plummets when heading out to the end users. The throughput on a NGFW doesn’t change regardless of how much protection is enabled. The speed coming in goes straight back out.
A NGFW allows for scheduled customised reports on user activity and the ability to export this to a specific format (e.g. Excel, PDF, HTML). IT can access a live view of users’ web activity and enable instant notifications for policy breaches and network outages. This is invaluable for safeguarding where instant alerting of threats can help protect users from harm.
We can advise you further about selecting and implementing a next-generation firewall to ensure your network is operating at its maximum performance level, with the maximum security possible. Contact us to have an initial discussion about information security.