Many cyberattacks can be subtle, and high-level network visibility may not be enough to protect against data breaches and other attacks. Application control, a system designed to uniquely identify traffic from various applications on a network, enables an organization to define and apply extremely granular security and network routing policies based upon the source of a particular traffic flow. As a result, it can prevent unauthorized applications from acting in ways that pose risk to the organization.
Application control works by matching different types of network traffic to predefined models. In order for computers to talk to one another, their traffic needs to conform to certain standards. Knowledge of these standards enables application control to differentiate one type of traffic from another.
After a particular traffic flow as been identified as belonging to a certain application, it can be classified in a number of ways:
After a network traffic flow has been assigned to a particular application and set of categories, policies can be applied based upon those assignments. This grants an organization a high level of visibility and control over its network infrastructure.
Without application control, an organization is limited to defining policies based on features such as IP addresses and port numbers. While these can help to identify the application producing a traffic flow, there is no guarantee of correctness. The use of standard port numbers for certain applications is a convention, not a rule.
With application control, network traffic is identified by matching packets to known models of how different applications’ traffic is structured. This identification is more accurate and enables an organization to see the mix of traffic within their network. This level of visibility can also be applied in a number of different ways and provides several benefits to an organization:
Application control is a security technology built into some next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) and secure web gateways (SWGs). The ability to uniquely identify the application that created a particular traffic flow provides a number of different network performance and security benefits to an organization.
Application control is only one of several features that should be included in a NGFW. For more information on what to look for, check out this firewall buyers’ guide. Then, contact us for more information about Check Point’s firewall options and schedule a demo to see how a NGFW with application control provides more effective protection against cyber threats.