What to Look for When Choosing a Next-Generation Firewall

By CIOReview | Friday, July 15, 2016
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The lack of hefty firewall system schooled as part of the latest data cyber security techniques is one of the biggest challenges vexing chief information and security officers today. Recent security breaches in some of the world’s largest and supposedly most secure network environments raise the question, ‘is the current security protocol robust enough to tackle issues pertaining to unauthorized access for critical assets?’ Through Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) which are application-aware, it becomes rather simple to differentiate various applications to implement granular security policies at the application layer. The NGFW works by utilizing a deep packet inspection and intrusion prevention techniques to monitor the network traffic. To avert incidents that can deeply affect a firm’s standing, adopters of NGFW should have a glance at the below points while evaluating criteria for buying a NGFW system.

Protection Level:

An NGFW system should have strongly integrated security layers with compact internal communication. NGFW feature set incorporates QoS/bandwidth management, application inspection and control, inline deep packet inspection firewalls, SSL/SSH inspection, IDS/IPS, inline deep packet inspection firewalls, and inline deep packet inspection firewalls. Furthermore, some service providers offer an open architecture for application control, mobile device security, threat intelligence, Active Directory integration, and Data Loss Prevention (DLP). A threat-focused NGFW with comprehensive threat and advanced malware protection management can help companies’ security teams identify and protect against risks. 

Performance Level:

Indications of Compromise (IoC) are “tags” on a host that suggest  the possibilities of cyber threats. It helps identify malware activity on hosts and endpoints, and offers highly precise visibility into suspicious and malicious behavior. An NGFW solution with predetermined indication capability leads to remediation, containment, and faster identification. It also incorporates a broad set of features and enables all available services at once can out-turn in major performance degradation. Understanding of hardware and software architecture, grasp of orchestration and integration and consideration of performance level can be helpful for an organization looking for a NGFW system.

Network Visibility:

An NGFW with all-inclusive contextual cognizance offers a transparent view of entire network to the user.  Comprehensive network visibility requires a continuous and passive monitoring of all the assets in the network. It also covers users and devices, communications between virtual machines, applications and website accesses, file transfers, and many more functionalities. It provides real-time insight that helps security teams to identify and resolve security gaps in the network.

Scalability and Security:

NGFW solution should be able to enable the users to automate the activities like policy tuning, and impact assessment, user identification. The automatic coalition of threats against network topology, host vulnerability intelligence and attack context can assist IT administrators to focus their attention on certain intrusion events that warrant a quick response. The automation of security deployment, tuning, and uniform enforcement of security policies throughout the network helps security experts to improve the security effectiveness and pay attention to the new security threats. The NGFW should be able to easily attribute user identities to remediate threats more quickly.

An NGFW should have multi-layered threat protection system to enable security teams to deliver uniform and powerful security at scale to remote offices, internet edge sites, and even to the large data centers in both virtual and physical environments.

Integration with Third Party Security Solutions:

For an NGFW solution Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is not just the procure cost but it’s include the maintenance and operation cost as well. An NGFW solution rich with features and flexible operation not only helps an organization to improve the total cost of ownership but also reduces the complexity of security implementation and extends its support for easy integration of third-party technologies. It incorporates software management solutions, vulnerability scanners, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) platforms and trouble-ticketing systems. Integration with the third-party solutions strengthens the multi-layered protection and integrates essential security layers into one platform.

It also streamlines security deployment by supporting existing security protocol and sharing intelligence to coordinate and simplify responses. Choosing an NGFW vendor that offers unique purchasing options and gives organizations the opportunity to lower costs and improve productivity through shorter IT lifecycles would be apt for a company.

Cost and Complexity:

A consolidated, multi-layered approach of firewall can provide complete visibility into threats and consequently better protection. Integrating multiple boxes onto a single platform eliminates the complexity of managing multiple solutions and reduces cost of purchasing as well. NGFW appliance, software, and cloud service pricing varies considerably with vendor and model. When choosing a firewall system, it’s important to closely review individual product offerings to determine what features are required for the business progress, what the company can afford and what it cannot. In addition, manageability is an important criterion to consider when buying a firewall solution. It examines how the NGFW manages complex environments with many firewalls and users.

Conclusion:

To sum it up, purchasing a firewall system is never a walk in the park for most organizations. Security issues emanating from slow patch cycles and industry-laggard issues can result in the major security breach. A vendor offering 24/7 technical support can be good and helpful. Additionally, firms can benefit with effective prevention strategies by conducting in-depth study to fully optimize on the advantages of the selected NGFW system.