An NGFW is like a security multi-tool that has evolved into a firewall that provides advanced capabilities such as application control, VPN, and sandboxing. These are capabilities that most businesses use regularly. Today’s work-from-anywhere distributed workforce requires granular Internet access privileges to support their jobs.
Reduced Risk of Cyber Attacks
In addition to detecting and blocking attacks at the perimeter, an NGFW can provide advanced capabilities that prevent attackers from successfully exploiting internal systems. This includes the detection of IoT device malware, ransomware, account takeover, supply chain attacks, and other threats attempting to gain access to sensitive data. Unlike older defenses that rely on signature updates, an ML-Powered NGFW embeds ML algorithms directly in the firewall code. As a result, it can inspect a file while it’s being downloaded and then block it instantly if the file is malicious. This reduces the time from visibility to prevention to close to zero.
Additionally, NGFWs can scan files at several layers in the OSI model, including the application layer, where many of the most dangerous attacks occur. For example, NGFWs can detect and stop malware that exploits a network’s applications by hiding in encrypted traffic tunnels.
Lastly, advanced malware protection (AMP) is another critical component of an NGFW. Because attack techniques and malware strains continually evolve, AMP solutions continuously analyze files throughout their lifespan. This ensures that even new, never-before-seen malware can be identified and blocked at the gateway. Whether an NGFW is deployed as a physical hardware appliance or as a virtual security service, it will come equipped with a robust ecosystem of integrated security solutions and connected services that can be stacked to create a secure perimeter that no adversary can penetrate.
Improved Network Performance
The extra layers of security typically associated with traditional firewalls can slow down network speeds. However, NGFWs are designed to protect networks without sacrificing speed or application performance. NGFWs utilize advanced threat detection to prevent cyber attacks like bots and malware from entering a network. These NGFWs can also receive and act on threat intelligence from external sources. This keeps IPS signatures current, blocking new and unknown malware strains. Unlike traditional connection-based firewalls, which only filter at layer 4 of the OSI model, NGFWs can operate up to layer seven and inspect each packet’s content. They can even decrypt encrypted tunnels and check the contents of that traffic stream to identify and block a more excellent range of threats than older connection-based firewall solutions.
Additionally, NGFWs can implement remote browser isolation (RBI). RBI works by separating website code from the user’s device. This means the user only sees a website rendering, preventing them from downloading malicious files. This feature is often combined with ML-powered NGFWs that compare the behavior of millions of IoT devices to that of your network, automatically updating your security policies and avoiding false positives. Lastly, most NGFWs provide centralized management capabilities that allow network administrators to configure, monitor and report on many NGFWs from a single interface. This can reduce the time required to deploy and manage a new security strategy across your business.
Reduced Network Management Costs
An NGFW consolidates multiple security technologies into a single platform, eliminating the need for separate devices and simplifying network security management. This reduces the overall cost of maintenance and support, improving operational efficiency. NGFWs provide granular degrees of control that go far beyond the simple deny/allow a model of traditional firewalls. These capabilities will enable the organization to authorize the excellent features of a program while blocking the detrimental ones. This is made possible by analyzing traffic at layer 7, the application layer, and by including an intrusion prevention system (IPS) within an NGFW.
Many of today’s attacks rely on encryption to hide their malicious payloads from security devices. Using an NGFW with integrated IPS allows security professionals to decrypt traffic, analyze it, identify threats, and command and control communications. This prevents attacks, preserves user privacy, and provides predictable performance. Adding an NGFW to your security architecture eliminates the need for additional standalone devices like SIEM or threat detection tools, further reducing costs. In addition, an NGFW with inline ML detects and blocks new malware variants instantly, rather than waiting for signature updates that can take minutes or longer. This significantly reduces human error and prevents threats from slipping through the cracks of a manual update.
Enhanced Network Visibility
Most traditional firewalls only filter packets at the OSI layer 4, while NGFWs can analyze traffic up to layer 7. This allows them to filter application-layer data and provide granular network access controls. The result is enhanced visibility for a Zero Trust model that blocks threats before they enter the corporate network. For example, NGFWs have built-in features like deep packet inspection (DPI) that detect anomalies and suspicious behavior within the packet data. These capabilities allow administrators to identify and block advanced Gen V cyberattacks.
ML-Powered NGFWs rearchitect how signature updates are delivered. Instead of waiting for a new signature to be uploaded manually, ML algorithms are embedded in the firewall’s code and run inline. This reduces the time from detection to prevention to less than five minutes, allowing for rapid response to new threats.
Furthermore, ML-Powered NGFWs can inspect a file as it is being downloaded and block it instantly if it is malicious. This is a significant improvement on the old deny/allow model that relies on recognizable signatures, which malware variants can easily block. NGFWs also feature identity awareness, which can be integrated with existing enterprise authentication systems to determine the user’s role. This enables administrators to set role-based access control (RBAC) for users to have the correct permissions to work with data and content on the Internet.
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