If you are reading this, chances are, you already have a basic understanding of how firewalls protect computer networks. You might also have wondered if a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) is a worthwhile investment.
Here, we’ll explain the difference between Traditional and NGFW firewalls, the latter being the more superior of the two.
Whilst they might serve the same purposes, firewalls are created differently. Specific technologies, features and capabilities vary significantly.
So how exactly do they differ, and what difference would this make to your business?
Traditional Firewalls vs. Nextgen Firewall
A traditional firewall is designed to police traffic going in and out of your network based on destination IP address, port, protocol and source IP address.
Here’s a list of features of a Traditional Firewall:
- Stateful inspection (in the more sophisticated traditional firewalls) – the state of packets are inspected as a flow, not individually, and it can distinguish between safe, potentially unsafe, and dangerous threats.
- Packet filtering- The system runs deep inspections of incoming and outgoing packets before they are allowed to pass through. Packets that match the filter’s set of rules are forwarded; packets that do not are dropped.
- VPN (Virtual Private Network) – It ensures that the network is kept secure when users traverse public networks like the internet.
Next-Generation Firewalls have the above features AND the additional features listed below:
- Application awareness
It allows the organisation to set specific rules for each application instead of being defined by a port number which can be used by everyone. It helps identify traffic flow to detect ever-evolving threats.
- Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
Designed to actively detect and block intrusions. It also blacklists all future traffic from the offending IP addresses.
- Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
As the name suggests, it refers to a thorough inspection of the contents including the source. Instead of just reading the header of a packet, an NGFW firewall is capable of viewing the full context and content of a packet
Benefits and Importance of Next-Generation Firewalls
Contrary to what the name suggests, the Next-Generation Firewall has been around for many years. With the colossal advancements in technology, cybercriminals have become more innovative and advancing at an alarming pace.
This renders a simple security system insufficient. An outdated traditional firewall may leave your company’s security system vulnerable and open to fast-developing new threats.
A robust corporate network requires a multi-faceted cyberthreat management system. Modern businesses call for up-to-the-minute protection, something that traditional firewalls can no longer cope with.
Why is an NGFW so important in today’s world?
It saves time and money, simplifies the process, and enhances the entire system. Identification of new threats is automated to keep your company’s network and data safe from cyberthreats.
- A Platform for Easy Control and Access to the Network Firewall
With multiple users in your company accessing the internet and network, NGFW allows for single-console access to the firewall. Unlike with traditional firewalls where you would need to manually and individually configure the firewalls, users can access the NGFW easily from the admin console. This way, the firewall applies blanket protection against potential threats to everyone within the company and its network.
- Manage and Update Security Protocols
Using a single authorized device, NGFW allows for easy management and updates to the firewall. From one device, you get complete control of the integrity of the system. With traditional firewalls, you’d need to separately update the firewall to protect the system against new threats. With NGFW, the network administrator can control the settings conveniently from a simple dashboard. It is a small price to pay for optimal protection.
- No Slowdown of Network Speed
One of the most common struggles for any traditional firewall is that it works for and with a dedicated number of devices and security protocols. With added security features and devices, users will experience a network speed slow down. With NGFW, the number of devices and protocols will not weigh the system down. Regardless of the number of people you have in the office logged into the network, NGFW provides peak protection and performance for everyone.
- An All-in-One Network Firewall System
Instead of having to rely on different antivirus, ransomware and spam protection tools and apps, the NGFW comes in a complete package. What you’ll get in an endpoint security firewall with an almost-impenetrable defense mechanism. These intelligent additional features help you monitor and control new cybersecurity threats emerging in the market easily every day.
- Optimal Role-Based User Access and Admin Functions
What’s really unique about NGFW is that it can tag and identify specific users according to their designated roles. The system admin can assign different functions for different users as well as limit the scope of access of other individuals or groups. In fact, users of NGFW can determine if they want parts of their data or content made public or kept private.
How to Choose the Right Next-Gen Firewall?
Now that you understand the difference between a Traditional Firewall and a Next-Generation Firewall, how do you go about choosing the right NGFW?
First, evaluate your network to understand the level of security required. Once you are aware of your requirements, use the list below as a guide to finding the right firewall product for your company.
- Performance of the Firewall
It is important to ensure that the performance level of the firewall is not undersized as it will eventually cause issues. Undersized hardware appliances will struggle to run adequate security features and will not be able to handle the processing required. Knowing the product’s calculated throughput today and for the next few years is crucial to maintain a well-oiled NGFW machine.
- Cost of Firewall Ownership
One important factor to consider is the cost of purchasing the firewall. With various components like hardware, support, and licensing, you will soon find that cost of ownership differs vastly. Conduct a cost/benefit analysis for the duration of NGFW lifecycle to ensure that you are getting your money’s worth of owning a high-level security system.
- Visibility and Control
While there are many vendors out there selling NGFWs, you need transparency and control. The product you choose must provide you with significant control and visibility over all the essential areas. There should be full contextual awareness as a higher level of insight will assist in identifying and addressing security gaps.
A common mistake made by many is purchasing a product suitable for the just-for-today workload. Unless you want to purchase a new firewall every 6 – 12 months, you’ll need to choose an NGFW firewall that can grow with your company. Typically, the lifespan of an NGFW is about 3 to 6 years. Remember, purchasing oversized hardware that exceeds your expectations is always better than buying an undersized one.
- Inter-Operable and System Compatibility
As a firewall security system is protecting your network, it will be interacting with other networks, systems and security tools. Verify and confirm the compatibility between the Next-Gen Firewall and your most-used applications before purchasing them.
- Centralized Management
Having the right management platform not only saves time which leads to increased efficiency, but it also saves cost. Most enterprise Next-Generation Firewalls provide centralized management. One dashboard is all you need to configure, monitor and report its activities. Many vendors now offer cloud-managed NGFW that takes away the need of an on-premises server.
Based on the information above, detailing the differences between traditional and NGFW firewalls, you are now in a better position to decide whether to upgrade and invest in a new firewall system. It depends on your company’s needs.
Because the capabilities of a modern-day NGFW gives your network more secure blanket protection against cyber attacks, it is worth the investment.
You can find out more about getting better protection for your company’s system by contacting our sales team today. Get a quote from us right now!