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What Is a Network Gateway?

Network gateways are designed to translate traffic between different protocols. These translations enable networks using different protocols or data formats to be linked together with the network gateway performing in-line translation.

The use of network gateways is important for connecting corporate local area networks (LANs) to the public Internet. Internally, many organizations use different protocols than are used on the public Internet, but some of this traffic may be destined for the Internet. By deploying a network gateway at the boundary between the enterprise LAN and the public Internet, communications can be translated between the networks, enabling internal users to send and receive data over the Internet.

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How Does a Network Gateway Work?

Network gateways are tasked with linking networks by performing translation between different protocols and data formats at the network boundary. Companies may deploy gateways to connect the corporate LAN to the public Internet or to link different internal networks, such as IT and OT networks.

Network gateways can be combined with other key network and security appliances, such as a firewall. However, dedicated network gateways have different functions than routers, bridges, and firewalls. 

Let’s take a closer look at the key differences:

Gateway vs Router

Gateways and network routers can both carry traffic between different networks. However, while both devices can link two networks and routers can perform some of the functions of a network gateway, they perform different functions.

A major difference between a network gateway and a router is the gateway’s ability to link two different networks that use different protocols. While a router is focused on directing packets along a path from their origin to their final destination, the gateway’s translation capabilities enable it to convert the protocols used by network traffic as it passes over the network boundary.

Gateway vs Bridge

Like network gateways, network bridges are designed to connect two different networks. In this case, a network bridge can link two corporate LANs that operate using the same network protocols. When crossing through a bridge, network packets are not modified.

Network gateways, on the other hand, are designed to perform traffic translation. This enables it to rewrite a packet at all layers of the OSI model to enable it to pass from one network to another that uses different protocols.

Gateway vs Firewall

Network gateways and firewalls are similar in that they sit at the boundary of a network. However, they differ significantly in their core functions.

Network gateways are designed to transmit traffic between networks, while the primary purpose of a network firewall is to restrict what traffic can pass through a network boundary. Network firewalls have built-in rulesets that determine whether or not a particular packet meets the corporate security policy.

What is a Network Gateway Appliance?

A network gateway is designed to provide translation between two different networks using particular protocols, and a network gateway appliance is a turn-key solution that specializes in translating particular protocols. This physical appliance makes it easier for an organization to deploy the required network translation.

Gateway Features and Capabilities

Network gateways are a vital component of corporate network architecture. Some of the key features of a network gateway include the following:

  • Multi-Protocol Support: Protocol translation is a core feature of a network gateway. These gateways are typically designed to support a range of protocols to make it easier to set up these interfaces between different networks.
  • Visibility: Network gateways are deployed at network boundaries, giving them unmatched visibility into the traffic crossing these boundaries. Additionally, their deep protocol understanding makes them ideal for traffic monitoring.

Security: Network gateways’ location at the network boundary also provides them with the visibility and control needed for security. A network gateway can include firewall functionality, transmitting or blocking network traffic based upon corporate network security policies.

Secure the Network With a Check Point Network Security Gateway

Check Point network gateways provide both the translation capabilities of gateways and the security functions of next-generation firewalls (NGFWs). These gateways integrate multi-layered, in-depth defenses including sandboxing technology to detect and prevent zero-day attacks, offering unmatched protection against the latest cybersecurity threats.

Along with security, performance is vital in a network gateway as these solutions must process traffic at line speed and can easily become a network bottleneck. Check Point gateways offer full threat prevention for traffic at scale up to 1.5 Tbps using the unique Maestro Hyperscale Network Security solution. This offers on-demand scalability to meet the needs of the growing and evolving enterprise.

To learn more about what to look for in a network gateway and NGFW, check out this buyer’s guide. You’re also welcome to explore the capabilities of Check Point NGFWs for yourself by signing up for a free demo.

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