From small gateways to large hyperscale solutions, firewalls come in a range of options. Here we discuss the 5 software features and capabilities any firewall must have to effectively prevent cyber attacks.
Traditional firewalls were designed to protect traditional networks against traditional cyber threats. As organizations’ networks and the cyber threat landscape grow and evolve, network firewalls require additional functionality and features to ensure the security of the company’s network and the sensitive data that it contains.
Below, we list the top 5 features:
Organizations must cope with rapidly increasing network security complexity. Most companies’ networks are growing larger and more complex as mobile devices, cloud deployments, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices join traditional user workstations and on-premises servers on the corporate network. At the same time, cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and numerous. As a result, companies must deploy, monitor, and maintain a growing array of security solutions to manage their cyber risk.
An organization’s next-generation firewall should help to alleviate security complexity, not contribute to it. A firewall with integrated Unified Security Management (USM) functionality enables an organization’s security team to easily and efficiently manage and enforce security policies across their entire network environment. This allows the security team to keep up with the company’s expanding digital attack surface and minimize the organization’s cyber risk.
The longer that a cyber threat has access to an organization’s network, the more expensive it will be to remediate it. Cyberattacks can cause damage and additional expense in a number of different ways. Exfiltration of sensitive data can result in legal and regulatory penalties, ransomware can decrease productivity and cause a loss of profits, and even simple malware often has persistence mechanisms designed to make it difficult and time-consuming to remove from a system.
Minimizing the damage that a cyberattack can cause to a network requires threat prevention. By identifying and blocking an attack before it crosses the network boundary, an organization nullifies the threat it poses to the network. This is why a network firewall with integrated threat prevention functionality – including anti-phishing, anti-malware, anti-bot, and integration with high-quality threat intelligence feeds – is an essential component of an organization’s cybersecurity strategy.
Digital transformation efforts mean that an organization’s network landscape is constantly evolving. New applications are deployed on the corporate network to accomplish certain goals, and others are phased out when they become obsolete. Different applications require different policies. Some applications may be high-priority traffic, while others should be blocked, throttled, or otherwise managed on the network. An organization’s next-generation firewall should be capable of identifying the application that generates a particular stream of traffic and applying application-specific policies to that traffic.
Organizations are also composed of a number of individuals with different job roles and responsibilities. An organization’s security policies should also be configurable based upon the identity of the user. Employees within an organization should have access to different systems and be able to use varying sets of applications. A firewall should support policy creation and enforcement based upon user identity.
Almost all organizations are using cloud computing, and the vast majority are using a hybrid cloud deployment. Private and public cloud deployments have different security requirements, and it is necessary for an organization to be able to enforce consistent security policies across cloud-based environments hosted by multiple vendors.
For this reason, an organization’s next-generation firewall should incorporate hybrid cloud support. The firewall should be easily deployable and scalable in any major cloud environment and enable an organization’s security team to manage all of their security settings from a single console. According to Gartner, 99% of cloud security failures through 2025 will be the customer’s fault, a problem that the company’s firewall should help the organization to avoid.
Many organizations have transitioned to cloud-based infrastructure due to its increased scalability and flexibility. Ultimately, we want the benefits of the cloud, in the cloud and on-premises. In the cloud this simply means choosing a NGFW template. In regards to on-premises, this means looking beyond legacy HA clustering solutions.
Hyperscale is the ability of an architecture to scale appropriately as increased demand is added to the system. This involves the ability to seamlessly provision and add more resources to the system that make up a larger distributed computing environment. Hyperscale is necessary to build a robust and scalable distributed system. In other words, it is the tight integration of storage, compute, and virtualization layers of an infrastructure into a single solution architecture.
Choosing the right firewall for your organization can be challenging since a number of different options exist and not all of them are created equal. Firewall solutions run the gamut from small gateways to hyperscale solutions.
The first step in choosing a next-generation firewall that is capable of ensuring your organization’s network security both now and in the future is understanding the vital features that a next-generation firewall should provide. For more information on what to look for in a firewall, check out this guide. Once you know what you’re looking for, contact us or request a demo to learn which Check Point firewall solution is the perfect fit for your organization.