Every so often, technology takes a giant step forward. Think back to the first time you saw a smartphone or used a tablet. Those were huge advances in the world of technology. As the devices we use continue to advance, so too must the security we use to protect our information. The types of threats that lurk over the internet are making similar, giant, advances.
Every organization uses a firewall to protect themselves from outside threats. Now, Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) are being deployed to thwart attacks
in a more sophisticated way. According to Gartner, NGFWs are defined as deep-packet inspection firewalls that move beyond port/protocol inspection
and blocking to add application-level inspection and intrusion prevention, and bring intelligence from outside the firewall. That is a pretty daunting
definition. To have a better understanding of this description, let’s look at the differences between a traditional firewall and an NGFW.
The traditional firewall has two main functions. First, the traditional firewall controls traffic allowed to enter and exit a point inside a network. Second, traditional firewalls have Virtual Private Network (VPN) capabilities. When you look at the functionality of an NGFW, you have to break down the features of Unified Threat Management (UTM). The features under the UTM are what make NGFWs worth the investment. The added features of UTM consolidate multiple network security functions into one device. In addition to the functionality of the traditional firewall, NGFWs feature:
- Integrated Intrusion Prevention System
- Advanced Threat Protection
- Application Control
- Web Filtering
UTMs are designed to cover the entire threat network and provide the ability to stay ahead of the latest vulnerabilities.
All of this information is great and sounds technical, but let’s get down to the bottom line: Is an NGFW right for you? The reality is NGFWs are the best and most efficient way for small and mid-sized businesses to manage the latest security threats. Threats like ransomware, CryptoLocker, CryptoWall and zero-day attacks are continuously evolving. If your organization needs to stay HIPAA- or PCI-compliant, NGFWs provide the extra security measures that help meet those requirements.
There are still many places where traditional firewalls are a good fit. However, it’s important to know that many traditional firewalls are reaching their end of support. If you’re looking for an end-to-end solution, considering an NGFW might be the next logical step for your organization.