Firewalls are a critical part of any business’ cybersecurity. But with threats changing daily, next-generation firewalls offer more adaptability to protect devices and networks from a broader range of intrusions. NGFWs can analyze traffic at multiple layers in the OSI model, including layer 7 (applications), which allows for more granular policy enforcement and control, application prioritization, and bandwidth allocation. This capability is often called application awareness or deep packet inspection (DPI).
Enhanced Threat Detection
NGFWs combine stateful inspection and deep packet inspection capabilities to detect many modern threats, including malware infections, vulnerabilities, and DDoS attacks. This advanced threat detection enables a next generation firewall to catch more sophisticated cyberattacks, bypassing traditional firewalls.
Many modern threats are application-layer attacks that target software applications and service vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access or steal data. Unlike traditional firewalls, next-generation firewalls can identify and control applications on the network, enabling administrators to enforce granular policies and prevent risky applications from accessing sensitive information.
Managed NGFWs also feature a web filtering function that controls and enforces web access based on predefined security policies. This helps organizations reduce the risk of malware infections, phishing attacks, productivity loss, and compliance violations by limiting employee access to inappropriate content. This is done by identifying and analyzing traffic to categorize and enforce policies based on identity, application, or group. NGFWs support identity mapping and groups-based policies, allowing easy customization and flexibility to fit any business environment.
While traditional firewalls operate on a deny or allow paradigm, NGFWs can inspect incoming data packets at the content level. This allows the security system to detect threats that would otherwise be hidden in regular network traffic and block them from entering the network.
NGFWs also offer granular levels of control to ensure that the excellent aspects of specific applications are accessible by the correct personnel. At the same time, the harmful components can be blocked from access entirely. This is achieved through a feature called application awareness and control.
Application awareness identifies and controls applications on the network, independent of port and protocol, by analyzing header information and comparing payload against established application signatures. This prevents unauthorized access to the network and can even mitigate malware attacks by detecting anomalous activity.
NGFWs can also integrate with intrusion prevention systems and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions to improve the detection of suspicious activity. This can also streamline a network‘s security infrastructure by consolidating the number of tools needed for protection and reporting. This enables IT teams to manage a firewall with other security tools from a single console for greater oversight.
Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
Firewalls have been around for a long time, but the rapid evolution of technology has created new threats and vulnerabilities. Hackers can exploit these flaws to infiltrate a network, steal data, and cause other serious problems. NGFWs have advanced threat prevention capabilities to stop malware before it enters the network, including deep packet inspection. They also offer centralized security management and web filtering to control and enforce policies on hundreds of millions of URLs.
Traditional firewalls use packet sniffing to inspect the header of a data packet and identify its source and destination. However, more is needed to detect several types of attacks, such as buffer overflows and other buffer overflow hacks. On the other hand, DPI goes beyond packet sniffing to examine data content. Unlike standard packet scanning, DPI analyzes the data within each packet to look for malicious code or other signs of suspicious activity, such as unauthorized access or policy violations. It can also be used to identify application-specific threats and encrypted malware.
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NGFWs have advanced capabilities that enable them to detect and thwart a wider variety of cyberattacks than traditional firewalls can. These include detecting and preventing malware, zero-day vulnerabilities, and other advanced threats. They also provide granular visibility into network traffic so organizations can quickly identify and analyze potential security risks.
Application awareness is another capability that helps prevent a broad range of complex hacking attempts. This is achieved by inspecting incoming traffic at multiple OSI model layers, including layer 7.
NGFWs can also bolster their threat detection and prevention capabilities with external feeds of threat intelligence. This is particularly important as attack techniques and malware strains constantly evolve, requiring up-to-the-minute threat intelligence to be effective against them.
With centralized management, a single security admin can control multiple firewalls from one workstation. This makes it easier to update cybersecurity policies and report on incidents using a single reporting system. It also reduces the risk of a mistaken setting in a different console that could negatively impact all networks.
Best-in-class NGFWs can scrutinize data packets at several OSI model layers, compared to traditional firewalls that only analyze network traffic at Layers 3 and 4. This gives security teams more context and visibility into application behavior and activity, enabling them to block, prioritize, and allocate bandwidth for specific applications without compromising overall performance.
Using advanced technologies such as machine learning and AI, NGFWs can learn and adapt to evolving threats – keeping them one step ahead of hackers. They’re like the secret agents of the network security world, guarding all incoming and outgoing traffic and analyzing everything for suspicious patterns that could indicate an attack. And the best part is that they’re always available to protect you, allowing your team to focus on critical projects without worrying about cyberattacks.