What is Firewall as a Service (FWaaS)?

The transition to cloud-based platforms and the increase in mobile device usage have led to the dissolution of the traditional network perimeter. Since many organizations have perimeter-focused security strategies, this network evolution is forcing a change in network security.

 

Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) moves firewall functionality to the cloud instead of the traditional network perimeter. By leveraging cloud computing, an organization can reap a number of financial, network performance, and security benefits.

Firewall as a Service (FWaaS)

How Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) works

Firewall as a Service takes the functionality of a next-generation firewall (NGFW) and moves it from a physical appliance to the cloud. This decoupling of security functionality from physical infrastructure enables an organization to securely connect a remote mobile workforce and offices to the modern corporate network where applications reside on-premises and in the cloud.

Why Do Organizations Need FWaaS?

A firewall is the cornerstone of an organization’s cybersecurity strategy. At a minimum, a firewall is capable of defining and enforcing a network boundary by inspecting and filtering all traffic that attempts to cross the border. NGFWs go much further, providing additional functionality that enables an organization to more effectively detect and block attempted cyberattacks.

 

Traditional, appliance-based firewalls are effective in many contexts, but they are not applicable to all situations. Some potential limitations of an appliance-based firewall include:

 

  • Location: A firewall can only inspect traffic that passes through it. This can make it difficult for an appliance-based firewall to protect remote users to the cloud.
  • Scalability: Many firewall appliances have finite resources that limit the amount of traffic that they can inspect and secure. Organizations whose needs grow beyond the limits of their existing hardware must purchase and deploy new hardware.

 

Therefore, an FWaaS can help an organization to address the situations where these limitations can be an issue.

Advantages of Firewall as a Service

Like other cloud-based services, FWaaS provides a number of benefits to its users. Some examples of benefits that organizations can reap by deploying FWaaS include:

 

  • Unified Security Policy: Firewalls can enforce security policies but only for the traffic that passes through them. With FWaaS, it is much easier for an organization to send all of its traffic through one of its firewalls, enabling enforcement of consistent and unified security policies across its entire network.
  • Flexible Deployment: The potential deployment locations of a physical firewall appliance are limited by an organization’s geographic footprint. FWaaS, as a cloud-based resource, does not share the same limitations.
  • Simplified Deployment and Maintenance: Purchasing, deploying, and configuring physical firewall appliances can be a complex process and requires specialized knowledge to ensure that all systems are installed and set up correctly. With FWaaS, many of these setup steps are eliminated as these firewalls are implemented as virtualized appliances in the cloud.
  • Improved Scalability: With physical firewall appliances, security scalability can be limited by the available hardware. FWaaS offers greatly improved scalability since the pool of available resources can expand and contract as an organization’s needs evolve.
  • Increased Flexibility: Appliance-based firewalls offer limited flexibility as upgrades and network restructuring requires changes to physical components. FWaaS enables an organization to adapt more easily to surges in network traffic and the demand for security functionality.

SD-WAN: Network Security as a Cloud Service

FWaaS provides a number of benefits to an organization on its own. However, in combination with other technologies like software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), it enables an organization to restructure its network security to better meet the needs of the enterprise and its users.

 

SD-WAN is a technology that decentralizes and optimizes network routing within the corporate WAN. An SD-WAN appliance uses application control to determine the source of network traffic and applies application-specific policies to optimally route this traffic over multiple different transport media, such as broadband Internet, mobile networks, and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) circuits.

 

The utility of SD-WAN can be limited when using appliance-based firewalls. Since all traffic must pass through a firewall for security inspection and policy enforcement, the ability of SD-WAN to optimize routing is limited by the organization’s firewall deployment.

 

FWaaS, on the other hand, can be deployed in conjunction with SD-WAN so that every SD-WAN appliance includes integrated security. This means that traffic can be routed directly to its destination without sacrificing network security or visibility. As the use of cloud infrastructure and support for remote work increases, the combination of FWaaS and SD-WAN can dramatically improve the performance and usability of the corporate WAN.

Making the Switch to Firewall as a Service (FWaaS)

FWaaS provides several benefits to an organization. Its use of a cloud-based virtualized appliance provides it with a level of flexibility and scalability that many appliance-based firewalls struggle to match. In combination with a secure SD-WAN deployment, organizations can move network routing and security functionality to the network edge, which is essential for maintaining network performance as the use of cloud-based infrastructure and support for remote work grows.

 

Check Point’s NGFW is available in a FWaaS form factor. To learn more about how to choose the right NGFW, check out this guide. You’re always welcome to contact us to learn more about how Check Point can help improve your network security and register for a demo to see our cloud-based firewall in action.

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