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What is next-Generation Firewall? | Traditional vs. Next Generation Firewall

ComputerNetwork | 2021-07-14

A next-generation firewall (NGFW) is a network security device that provides capabilities beyond a traditional, stateful firewall. While a traditional firewall typically provides stateful inspection of incoming and outgoing network traffic, a next-generation firewall includes additional features like application awareness and control, integrated intrusion prevention, and cloud-delivered threat intelligence.

A traditional firewall provides stateful inspection of network traffic. It allows or blocks traffic based on state, port, and protocol, and filters traffic based on administrator-defined rules. A next-generation firewall (NGFW) does this, and so much more. In addition to access control, NGFWs can block modern threats such as advanced malware and application-layer attacks. According to Gartner's definition, a next-generation firewall must include:

■ Standard firewall capabilities like stateful inspection

■ Integrated intrusion prevention

■ Application awareness and control to see and block risky apps

■ Threat intelligence sources

■ Upgrade paths to include future information feeds

■ Techniques to address evolving security threats

What should I look for in a next-generation firewall?

The best next-generation firewalls deliver five core benefits to organizations, from SMBs to enterprises. Make sure your NGFW delivers:

1. Breach prevention and advanced security

The No. 1 job of a firewall should be to prevent breaches and keep your organization safe. But since preventive measures will never be 100 percent effective, your firewall should also have advanced capabilities to quickly detect advanced malware if it evades your front-line defenses. Invest in a firewall with the following capabilities:

Prevention to stop attacks before they get inside

A best-of-breed next-generation IPS built-in to spot stealthy threats and stop them fast

URL filtering to enforce policies on hundreds of millions of URLs

Built-in sandboxing and advanced malware protection that continuously analyzes file behavior to quickly detect and eliminate threats

A world-class threat intelligence organization that provides the firewall with the latest intelligence to stop emerging threats

2. Comprehensive network visibility

You can't protect against what you can't see. You need to monitor what is happening on your network at all times so you can spot bad behavior and stop it fast. Your firewall should provide a holistic view of activity and full contextual awareness to see:

Threat activity across users, hosts, networks, and devices

Where and when a threat originated, where else it has been across your extended network, and what it is doing now

Active applications and websites

Communications between virtual machines, file transfers, and more

3. Flexible management and deployment options

Whether you are a small to medium-sized business or a large enterprise, your firewall should meet your unique requirements:

Management for every use case--choose from an on-box manager or centralized management across all appliances

Deploy on-premises or in the cloud via a virtual firewall

Customize with features that meet your needs--simply turn on subscriptions to get advanced capabilities

Choose from a wide range of throughput speeds

4. Fastest time to detection

The current industry standard time to detect a threat is between 100 to 200 days; that is far too long. A next-generation firewall should be able to:

Detect threats in seconds

Detect the presence of a successful breach within hours or minutes

Prioritize alerts so you can take swift and precise action to eliminate threats

Make your life easier by deploying consistent policy that's easy to maintain, with automatic enforcement across all the different facets of your organization

5. Automation and product integrations

Your next-generation firewall should not be a siloed tool. It should communicate and work together with the rest of your security architecture. Choose a firewall that:

Seamlessly integrates with other tools from the same vendor

Automatically shares threat information, event data, policy, and contextual information with email, web, endpoint, and network security tools

Automates security tasks like impact assessment, policy management and tuning, and user identification

Traditional Firewall vs. Next Generation Firewall

As their name suggests, next generation firewalls are a more advanced version of the traditional firewall, and they offer the same benefits. Like regular firewalls, NGFW use both static and dynamic packet filtering and VPN support to ensure that all connections between the network, internet, and firewall are valid and secure. Both firewall types should also be able to translate network and port addresses in order to map IPs.

There are also fundamental differences between the traditional firewall and next generation firewalls. The most obvious difference between the two is an NGFW’s ability to filter packets based on applications. These firewalls have extensive control and visibility of applications that it is able to identify using analysis and signature matching. They can use whitelists or a signature-based IPS to distinguish between safe applications and unwanted ones, which are then identified using SSL decryption. Unlike most traditional firewalls, NGFWs also include a path through which future updates will be received.

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