The next-generation firewall (NGFW) is the wave of tomorrow for all businesses, from small to large. In 2023, the market share is 20%! These advanced firewalls are an improvement on the current technology and offer more security than traditional ones.
Firewalls are generally only able to grow in size as the challenges increase. Security teams need to be able to protect themselves better. NGFWs can help. They are more effective than traditional firewalls, and they’re great for small businesses that do not have a dedicated security team. Let’s look at why they are great for SMBs, and then some of the top NGFWs.
Why are Next-Generation Firewalls important for Small Businesses
Next-generation firewalls provide more than port/protocol information and inspection. The newer rules and protocols provide enhanced security, allowing for continuous monitoring and automatic detection of threats. It is especially important for SMBs where employees often wear many hats. You can use one firewall to manage all your networks, despite network segmentation or multiple firewalls.
Next-Generation Firewall Features to Look For
Keep an eye out when buying next-generation firewalls for features that traditional firewalls do not offer. Keep these nine features in mind while shopping.
1. Applicant and Identity Awareness
It’s not only about port and protocol analysis. The next-generation firewalls have also been enhanced to be able to identify identities, which helps administrators enable access protocols. This access can be determined by specific criteria. You can give the right access to the right people, without having to worry about someone breaking the rules.
2. Centralized management, visibility, and auditing
Administrators require a user-friendly user interface in order to adjust and view various security systems such as NGFW devices. NGFWs include features such as log analysis, policy administration, and a dashboard for management. These features enable admins to examine traffic patterns and export firewall configurations, as well as monitor the overall network status.
3. Stateful Inspection
Traditional firewalls inspect network traffic using stateful Inspection up to Layer 4. NGFWs, on the other hand, inspect network traffic from Layers 2-7. This provides a comprehensive view of traffic. NGFWs can now perform the same functions as traditional firewalls while being able to identify both safe and unsafe packets. This is a valuable feature to extend to the application level, as network edges are increasingly important.
4. Deep Packet Inspection
DPI goes one step beyond packet inspection by inspecting not only the headers but also the contents of the packets. This inspection is performed by looking at both the header and data parts of the packets. DPI can classify or redirect packets that contain suspicious payloads, code, or other data. Stateful inspections may miss these.
5. Integrated Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
As the technology of cybersecurity has developed, IPS is becoming a more popular feature on next-generation firewalls. The differences between the two types of firewalls are getting less distinct. This creates a problem for buyers. The IPS technology in the NGFW must be compared with a separate product. IPS is crucial in preventing brute force attacks, known vulnerabilities, and DoS attacks.
Also read: What is Network Security Monitoring?
6. Network Sandboxing
You may be able, depending on the NGFW you use, to protect yourself from advanced malware using network sandboxing. IT professionals can send potentially malicious software to a cloud-based, safe and isolated environment for analysis.
7. Secured traffic
HTTPS has become the standard for secure internet communication, using the SSL/TLS protocols to encrypt traffic. Next-generation firewalls, which are the most popular network traffic inspection devices, have been adapted to allow decryption of SSL and TLS communication, often including remote access VPN. This monitoring is essential to ensure that the infrastructure is able to detect and prevent potential threats.
8. Threat Intelligence & Dynamic Lists
In general, firewalls of the next generation offer some form of threat intelligence. It’s not realistic to expect administrators to constantly monitor and respond to cyber threats, as they are continually evolving. NGFWs are able to use external threat intelligence feeds in order to keep up-to-date on the latest attacks and threats. This information is used to automatically block malicious traffic or to flag events that require attention. NGFWs can automate threat hunting and reduce human error with dynamic lists and threat intelligence feeds.
9. Integration Capacity
Many businesses, regardless of their size or industry, are increasingly using third-party services in order to improve their processes and operations. These include a variety of essential SaaS apps and APIs. When IT managers are evaluating new products for their organizations’ infrastructure, they must be able to easily integrate with third-party apps. For example, Integrations can include, SIEM software and 2FA, Active Directory, and reporting tools.
Top Nine Next-Generation Firewalls in 2023
We’ve compiled our top choices for 2023 after a thorough analysis of key security factors!
1. Palo Alto Networks
Palo Alto Networks offers a complete set of next-generation firewalls. There are physical appliances, virtualized firewalls, and container firewalls. These firewalls use a single-pass architecture that allows them to inspect all traffic types, including threats, applications, and content.
They can also link traffic to an individual user, regardless of their location or type of device. With their cloud identity engines, they can secure businesses that use multiple clouds and protect against the growing use of SaaS apps with an integrated Cloud Access Security broker.
Fortinet provides a range of firewalls that are suitable for different deployment scenarios and are available in public cloud platforms. The company also continuously develops its firewall services to provide customers with the latest security tools.
The next-generation firewalls come with high-performance appliances that add intrusion prevention and application control to the traditional firewall/VPN combination. Fortinet offers a single platform to ensure end-to-end network security.
3. Check Point
CheckPointoffers an extensive range of features, capabilities, and services, including intrusion prevention, VPN support, and stateful inspection. The SmartConsole console allows administrators to configure and manage firewall policies and view real-time statistics and security events. Check Point is known for being the preferred solution for many large businesses and government agencies.
Barracuda is a hardware-based firewall designed to provide comprehensive security to small and medium businesses. The ease of use of the Barracuda Firewall is one of its main benefits. Its web interface makes it simple for administrators to manage and set up firewalls.
Barracuda also offers a cloud management platform that allows administrators to manage multiple firewalls using a single console. Barracuda’s firewall is an excellent option for SMBs, as it offers a balance between features and affordability.
Also read: What is the Human Firewall: Definition, Pros and Cons
Cisco provides a range of firewall solutions that are scalable from small branch offices up to large data centers. These firewalls can also be purchased in virtual form. This allows them to be used in private or public cloud environments.
The Secure Firewall 3100 Series is designed to provide remote workers with a VPN performance that can be up to 17 times faster. These firewalls employ machine learning to identify potential threats and user applications in encrypted traffic, without decrypting it.
Forcepoint provides a wide range of network security products, including nine different firewall series that are designed to serve different purposes. These solutions include central management, and extensive security features, such as VPN, IPS and encrypted inspection. They also support SD-WAN and SD-WAN.
The NGFW aims to make it easier for a network to run efficiently and securely, and then keep it running that way. The Forcepoint NGFW has a unified core software that offers consistent capabilities, acceleration, and central management for all deployment types.
Juniper provides on-premises devices that can collect and analyze data coming from any external data source or firewall. This allows businesses to respond quickly to threats, detect malicious software and avoid being tied to one vendor.
The Juniper platform ATP is an open ecosystem that can be used in conjunction with any SIEM solution and firewall system. It is highly compatible and can be quickly implemented in any environment. Its ability to detect, analyze, and automate responses, along with its ability to detect threats, allows one-touch malware mitigation. It is a unique way to combat advanced malware.
Sophos offers next-generation firewall (NGFW) features that allow you to protect your network while also ensuring that your web traffic is safe. It provides flexible VPN options to enable secure communication and protect against threats such as drive-by downloading and botnets. It also offers detailed reports that help you analyze and understand the network’s protection and performance, and give the insight needed to improve it.
KerioControl is a software-based firewall that offers a number of features including intrusion prevention, VPN support, and stateful inspection. Content filtering, bandwidth control, and real-time reports are also included.
Kerio Control’s flexibility and ease of deployment are two of its key features. It can be installed on different hardware including physical servers, VMs, or even cloud platforms like AWS. Kerio Control offers an intuitive and comprehensive web-based interface for administrators to easily set up and manage firewall policies.
Kerio Control offers a firewall solution with a balance of features that’s perfect for small to medium businesses. It is a flexible option that can be used in many different scenarios.
Before we conclude, I will quickly go over some of the top 2023 firewall trends that you need to know.
The NGFWs have a lot of automation and will be the leader in the market in the short term. Small businesses will also benefit from them, as they are very automated. This is very useful for smaller teams. Security tools are becoming more sophisticated as security threats increase. It is only logical to join the NGFW bandwagon to use the best firewall to secure your network.