Choosing an Effective Network Firewall Solution

Introduction

The ongoing adoption of cloud services, in tandem with the growth of sophisticated network attack types, has made it clear that traditional firewalls are no longer sufficiently prepared for managing the complexity of modern network security. Network firewalls now require strong integration with cloud services, combined with support for hybrid network services. They need to guarantee the quality of connection for high volume network communication all while implementing advanced security protocols, to ensure the safeguarding of your data and technology.

The Purpose of This Guide

We built this buyer’s guide to direct you towards a modern network firewall solution. We know how difficult it can be to understand the ins and outs of network security – our guide will educate you on the features you should look for when deciding on a network firewall, whether it’s deployed in the cloud, on-premises, or a hybrid of both.

Understanding Network Firewalls

Network firewalls, as they exist today, are commonly referred to as “Next Generation Firewalls”. They’re a mature form of firewall technology, that expand upon simple port and protocol inspection, towards a more complete solution to dispersed network security. The rising complexity of network communications, especially with the adoption of cloud-hosted services, has required a more complex solution to ever-evolving network threats.

In particular, advances in automated detection have given IT administrators greater control over threat protection, without needing to manually manage all security services. In tandem with these traditional security features, modern network firewalls also integrate more directly with network features like remote access, VPN’s and SD-WANs, so configuration and bandwidth aren’t bottlenecked by demanding security protocols.

Network Firewall Deployments

Firewall deployment options have become increasingly complex with the growth of cloud services. If you’re network still exists on premises, but you’re interested in adopting some level of cloud integration in the future, you should make sure your firewalls are capable of adapting to your unique infrastructure. Look for a modern network firewall, designed to protect multiple network types, whether that is cloud-based, on-premises, or some combination of both.

Network firewalls can be deployed in the following ways:

Hardware Deployment

The main type of deployment provided by network firewalls – it refers to a physical firewall, kept on-premises and hardwired to the network.

Virtual Deployment

This refers to a firewall running in a virtualized environment, provides all of the main functionality of a hardware firewall, and can be customized to suit the needs of the organization and its IT administration.

Public Cloud Deployment

This type of network firewall is deployed in the cloud, and provides protection for data and applications as they migrate to and from the cloud.

It’s important that you understand the firewall deployment requirements of your organization's network security, so you can discover a network firewall solution that provides features built around your preferred deployment. With that being said, the best network security choice will be capable of robust security on any deployment, physical or otherwise.

Choosing the Right Network Firewall Solution

When looking for a modern network firewall, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than a modular solution, designed to integrate with network functions, all while providing advanced security and high availability.

In particular, there are a number of critical features that you should look for:

Intrusion Detection and Prevention

These detection systems are designed to enhance network security by providing comprehensive real-time protection against a broad range of network threats, vulnerabilities, exploits, and exposures in operating systems, applications, and databases.

A modern intrusion detection system will protect your servers at the network layer, by scanning for threats such as stealth port scans or SQL injections, and comparing suspicious activity against an updated database of known threats. A highly effective intrusion prevention system takes everything a step further, by automating the isolation and protection of known threats, so you don’t have to wait for your IT administrator to take action.

DoS and DDoS Protection

The growth of malicious network activity and efficacy has made Dos and DDoS protection not only necessary but paramount for organizations that require high availability for their services. An example of just how disruptive DDoS attacks can be is in the last year, the longest DDoS attack lasted 297 hours.

If you’re at risk, you need to know your cloud firewall is capable of protecting against denial of service threats while also maintaining mission-critical network services and allowing approved data communication. A robust solution should provide an active monitoring system, that automatically updates when new DDoS attacks arise – you shouldn’t settle for anything less than protection against 99.9% of attacks.

Botnet Protection

By blocking access to malicious sites and servers, and detecting potentially infected clients, security threats can be blocked, and infected clients can be isolated for remediation. A network firewall with effective protection can determine what domains are accessed by clients in the network, and monitor that traffic for suspicious activity. If you have a large organization, you can’t rely on filters to catch all malicious traffic – automated botnet and spyware protection can safeguard your network activity without major IT oversight.

Modern Encryption

One essential way to measure the effectiveness of a network firewall solution involves measuring the quality and versatility of encryption that is offered.

With SSL being the de-facto encryption system, it’s important that a network firewall can still detect threats within this encrypted pipeline. That way, secure data packets sent by malicious sources (through account takeover for example) can still be checked against IPS or IDS systems.

Web Filtering

You need a network firewall that provides highly granular, real-time visibility into network activity, so you can create and adjust content and access policies. This level of security control ensures the protection of user productivity while blocking accidental malware downloads and other web-based threats.

Malware Protection

With networks under constant threat from malware and other cyber attacks, it’s important that you’re shielding your internal network from malicious content, whether it’s email, web, or file related. This system should be capable of detecting known threat signatures since you can’t always rely on your employees to recognize malicious files until it’s too late.

Remote Access Support

Modern organizations have employees working all over the world and on various devices. With BYOD policies enabling employees to use their personal devices away from the office, it’s important that your network firewall is capable of supporting robust remote access system. The benefit of using cloud-platforms is built on the idea that your data and infrastructure is accessible from anywhere, but this only true when you’re security solution provides adequate protection to remote access.

SD-WAN Support

An increasingly popular and cost-effective alternative to hardwired network connections and MPLS infrastructures, SD-WAN's still require firewalls to secure network connections. That’s why your network firewall should guarantee fast, reliable connectivity across distributed networks.

Bandwidth Protection

The complexity of business networks requires a firewall solution capable of managing bandwidth resources while constantly checking for possible threats. A sophisticated network firewall should be capable of balancing existing session activity, so that network bandwidth usage isn't throttled.

The Importance of Network Firewalls

A modern and appreciable approach to network perimeters is complex – you should look for a firewall solution designed to optimize the performance and management of your network and to effortlessly scale across any number of locations and applications. It should provide full protection for your entire network perimeter, and maintain the same level of protection while your operation grows.

Barracuda Network Firewall Services and Products

Barracuda CloudGen Firewalls are a family of hardware, virtual, and cloud-based network firewalls that protect and enhance your dispersed network infrastructure. Designed for the cloud integration, it provides VPN clients for both desktop and mobile users. In addition, highly granular access control - which can be defined both by users and applications - hardens your organization's security when running mission-critical apps in the cloud.