First-Generation Vs Modern Firewalls
Expanded Capabilities: While the original firewalls were designed to perform traffic filtering based upon analysis of ports and protocols in network traffic, modern next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) are more sophisticated and integrate a number of network security components, including intrusion prevention systems (IPS), sandbox content analysis, and more. This enables them to detect and respond to a greater range of potential threats.
Multiple Deployment Options: Firewalls began as either hardware firewalls – standalone appliances running on dedicated hardware – or OS software firewalls like those integrated into Windows, Linux, and macOS. Modern firewalls are available in a variety of different form factors, enabling users to deploy them on-premises as physical appliances, in the cloud as virtual appliances and as a firewall as a service (FWaaS) model.
In addition to these, one of the main factors that sets the modern firewall apart from previous generations is the support for integrations or how well it fits in with existing network infrastructure components. A modern firewall offers integrations with:
- Identity Access Management (IAM) systems which are essential for zero-trust security, ensuring the user is authenticated and authorized to use protected resources.
- Security Event and Information Management (SIEM) solutions for security event management, which helps security teams effectively manage and use large volumes of alert data.
- Change control systems to ensure requests for changes to the security policy follow a proper evaluation and approval process.
- DevSecOps tools via APIs to simplify firewall provisioning, set security policies as part of CI/CD development pipelines, and respond to potential threats using Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) technology.
All of these changes to the firewall expand its capabilities and make it easier and more efficient for security teams to configure, manage, and monitor.
What are the Components of Firewall Management?
Firewall management solutions should be designed to be easy to use, and address all of the needs of a firewall’s users. Some vital components of a firewall management system include:
- Graphical Interface: Command-line interfaces (CLIs) have their advantages, but a graphical user interface (GUI) is essential for maximizing the usability of a system. A graphical interface enables data to be presented in a way that is intuitive to the user and supports rapid responses to threats, which are essential for effective threat management.
- Policy Control: Firewalls are designed to enforce multiple security technology policies on an organization’s network. This means that the systems in place for defining, modifying, and managing these policies should be intuitive and comprehensive.
- Threat Management: Firewalls reduce cybersecurity risk by identifying and managing potential threats to the organization. Firewalls should incorporate threat management solutions that enable analysts to identify potential threats and define and implement mitigations to address them.
- Device Management: Like any other system, firewalls require updates and other maintenance. Firewall management systems should include the ability to check for required updates and alert the user regarding needed maintenance.
- Third-Party Integrations: A firewall is the foundation of an organization’s security infrastructure, but it is only one component among several. For maximum effectiveness, firewalls should be able to be integrated with the rest of an organization’s security infrastructure via a unified security platform to support sharing of threat intelligence and other data and to enable coordinated response to identified threats.
- Scalability: Some organizations may have a single firewall, and others may have thousands. A firewall management solution should be able to scale to manage however many firewalls that an organization has deployed.
Who Uses Firewall Management?
Firewall management solutions may be used by a variety of different parties throughout an organization with different levels of expertise and different needs and requirements, including:
Firewall management solutions should be capable of addressing the unique use cases and objectives of each of these types of users.
How Do You Compare Firewall Management Systems?
Firewall management systems are a critical part of a firewall solution. If a firewall cannot be effectively managed, it does not provide an organization with optimal protection against potential cyber threats.
Some important criteria to look for in a firewall management system include:
- Ease of Use: A firewall management system should be easy to use. If the interface is not intuitive and is difficult to use, it will take more time to accomplish day to day tasks. This likely results in firewall rules and policies that do not adapt to meet an organization’s evolving security needs.
- Efficiency: Security teams are often overwhelmed and understaffed. Firewall management systems should be designed to be efficient to minimize the impact on a security team’s operations.
- Built-In Integrations: Firewalls are one component of an organization’s IT infrastructure. Integration of firewall management systems with external tools enables operators to achieve valuable context when making decisions and simplifies the management of enterprise cybersecurity.
- Scalability: An organization may have hundreds or thousands of firewalls deployed on its networks. Firewall management systems should be designed to scale to make it possible for an organization to manage even such a large security deployment.
The necessary components of a firewall management system are only some of the criteria that a buyer should consider when evaluating firewall systems. For more information on what to look for in a firewall, check out this buyer’s guide. Furthermore, you’re welcome to learn more about Check Point NGFWs and how they are engineered for peak usability, by requesting a demo.