Just this week, news broke of a new next-generation firewall (NGFW) from Cisco, one of the world leaders in secure networking equipment. Named Intelys, the new state-of-the-art firewall is thought to be one of the most highly protective NGFWs ever developed; safeguarding users against advanced cyber security threats through the use of managed multi-layered firewalls, managed logging, managed IDS/IPS and managed SIEM protocols.
Cisco’s latest NGFW comes amid a flurry of similar developments in the cyber security sector, with rival tech firms competing to cement their product as the go-to security solution for both corporate and domestic network users. Such organisations are responsible for touting NGFWs as a must-have security tool for enterprise development, but just why should your business invest in one?
Since coming to fruition in the 1990s, firewalls have been seen as a necessary level of security provision for all businesses using the Internet; giving organisations an extra level of security beyond the expertise of the IT department. Next-generation firewalls, however, have only recently emerged, and are best summed up by Frank Ohlhorst in his article, Next-Generation Firewalls 101.
Ohlhorst says: “Next-generation firewalls combine application awareness and deep packet inspection to give companies more control over applications while also detecting and blocking malicious threats.”
If you take any word away from Ohlhurst’s NGFW summary, it ought to be ‘control’. Unlike previous, simple packet firewalls, NGFWs offer enhanced flexibility and control for the end user — allowing security specialists to identify specific threats without disrupting the on-going functionality of the software. This will likely prove extremely beneficial for most businesses, as it will allow the user to block certain features of a site without having to bar the entire domain.
And this is just one of the ways businesses can expect to benefit by deploying a next-generation firewall. Here, we look at five further benefits NSFWs offer enterprises:
- Increased speed: Not only do next-gen firewalls handle traffic flow more efficiently, they support a five nines level of traffic availability — meaning faster threat screening without any drop in security performance.
- Priority traffic provision: NSFWs support network access from nonstandard ports, and certain traffic can be managed by the end user to bolster speed, performance and security.
- Flexible function blocking: As touched on above, heightened control measures mean that users can block specific features or functions of a webpage or application, rather than entirely blacklist the whole site.
- User control and management: Next-gen firewalls also offer complete flexibility when it comes to individual user preferences, and can be used to block access to certain individuals on a need-to-know basis within the company.
- Faster administration processes: Deployment, troubleshooting and management processes are also streamlined, thanks to a central repository that allows quicker active policy access.
For most businesses, these five benefits will likely have a hugely positive impact on day-to-day IT practices — not to mention provide comprehensive protection against emerging cyber threats. If you remain unconvinced about exactly why your business should invest in a next-generation firewall, IT security experts, AVR, offer these words of advice:
“Unlike firewall software, the next-generation offers a ‘from the ground up’ approach to security provision. Not only are they able to integrate seamlessly with existing security frameworks, they allow flexible control based not just on an individual IP address, but on the source user — giving IT teams complete flexibility and control when vetting incoming cyber threats.”