The Importance of Next Generation Firewalls

The Importance of Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW) for SMBs

Hackers will target any business that they identify as vulnerable; it is not limited to the financial sector or any particular vertical. Companies of all sizes and across all verticals have fallen victim to hackers.  In fact, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are a favored target.  Hackers bank on the fact that SMBs do not invest in and/or take the security measures necessary to keep their systems secure. 

Reliance on an up-to-date antivirus, unfortunately, cannot protect your business against the thousands of unknown viruses that are created every day, and a patched system won’t stop a zero-day attack (an attack that exploits a vulnerability that isn’t publicly known).  Network firewalls guard against security threats, but having the “right” firewall is a game changer.

Cybercriminals have the ability to compromise systems within seconds and with each attack, they become more sophisticated.  Users are vulnerable to phishing/spoofing schemes and malicious emails, as these threats live within their email and are delivered over the network, without anyone even knowing, until it’s too late.  The inability of standard firewalls to inspect network-packet data and identify legitimate business applications and attacks, forces those devices to accept or reject all traffic in a very unintelligent manner.

Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the fact that applications use non-standard ports to simplify access to applications. The unsecured application provides a clean runway for spreading malware across multiple end-user points.  A firewall that is poorly configured or whose protection is based on ports and IP addresses is no longer effective, and can be just as harmful as not having one at all. 

Next Generation Firewall (NGFW)

This led to the evolution of the Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) with newer rules and more robust security mechanisms for continuous monitoring and automatic threat detection. These firewalls can classify traffic based on the accurate identification of an application, not just port/protocol information. 

NGFWs offer stateful inspection of traffic and a multifaceted range of security competencies plus features such as Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), web filtering, malware detection, URL filtering, encryption, and anti-virus.  These features are directly related to security and controlling what users and systems can do, along with preventing network attacks. It also allows businesses to prioritize what traffic is critical and what is not.

IPS vs IDS

Intrusion prevention is the practice of monitoring and protecting a network from malicious activity and threats. Devices can generate thousands of alerts each day and can be prone to false positives, making makes it difficult to identify the appropriate actions to take.

It is important to note the key differences between IPS and IDS.  Although both increase the visibility of your network security through their robust monitoring and scanning capabilities, there is one key difference.  The IPS can take action to block an attack while the IDS will just alert you.  IPS scans your traffic and blocks malicious traffic before it can impact your environment.

Firewalls are the foundation of security for SMBs.  It is important to choose the right firewall, configure it properly, monitor for alerts, and respond to active threats in your environment. Contact The TNS Group today to learn how to protect the perimeter of your network by deploying and configuring an industry-leading Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) in your environment. 

By: Peter Fochi, Engineering, The TNS Group