What Are Next-Generation Firewalls? Learn The Key Differences From A Traditional Firewall

By Sharad Singh

The term of next-generation firewall (NGFW) came out of nowhere a few years ago and now it has become the glue that holds network security together. Firewall–as we know already–is a standard security tool for the major enterprises. The NGFW is a deep-packet inspection firewall that operates beyond protocol inspection and blocking to improve application-level inspection and brings intelligence from outside the firewall. These devices combine the conventional L3/L4 packet filtering with deep packet inspection, IPS, and other network security services coupled with the knowledge about user and application.

The NGFW refers to the third-generation of the network firewall technology that integrates extra capabilities including application-level traffic inspection, in-line deep packet inspection, and intrusion prevention. Rise in IoT-based complex threat landscape, increase in number of data breach cases, surge in demand for NGFW solutions, and stringent government regulations for data safety & security are the major factors that drive the growth of the NGFW market. According to Allied Market Research, the global next-generation firewall market is projected to garner $6.72 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 12.9% during the forecast period. The fast-forward growth of the market is due to several reasons.

Today, we live in the software-driven world, in fact, software has eaten the cybersecurity world also. Instead of investing money to deploy physical network devices, data centers firewalling is a lot more oriented toward software-based micro-segmentation tools. Additionally, the majority of the companies prefer micro-segmentation to protect cloud and organize the VM workloads. However, this trend is replacing the physical data center firewalls. On the contrary, the innovation of hybrid “god boxes” has offered some consolation. However, it is difficult to compete with the benefits offered by NGFW.

Benefits of NGFW

NGFW has most of the traditional firewall’s functions and more layers of security built in it to protect against more threatening issues. More importantly, this technology goes beyond static inspection and has application-level control. The most appealing features of the NGFW is that it can block malware from entering a network, which the traditional firewalls failed to achieve. The conventional firewalls are better at handling advanced persistent threats (APTs). However, NGFWs provide a cost-effective solution for the companies that are looking to enhance their security by adding multiple protection layers such as antiviruses, firewalls, and other security applications into a single solution.

Although many believe that the traditional firewall can offer a specific throughput from every port, in reality, it lacks the ability. The rising number of protection services and devices, when turned on, tent to choke the network speed. What’s more, by the time the traffic reaches the end user, the speed is chopped by more than one-third of the actual promised speed. However, NGFW throughput remains constant no matter the increase or decrease the number of connected protection devices and services.

Traditional firewall vs NGFW

Both traditional NGFW and traditional firewalls serve the same purpose of protecting a company’s network and data assets, but they operate in a completely different way. The main similarity static packet filtering to prevent packets at the point of interface to network traffic. Moreover, they show the capability to offer stateful packet inspection, port address translation and they can set up a VPN connection.

However, one of the most vital differences is that NGFW provide a deep-packet inspection function that operates beyond simple port and it inspects the data carried in network packets. In addition, NGFW adds application-level inspection and offer intrusion prevention that helps to act on the data offered by threat intelligence services. Unlike a traditional firewall, NGFW has extended functionality of NAT, VPN, and PAT support that operates in both transparent and routed more while integrating new threat management technologies.

Incorporating a firewall has become a must-have for any enterprise, especially in today’s world where threats to personal devices and the company’s networks are ever changing. With the flexibility of NGFW, the company gains an innovative way to protect devices from a much broader spectrum of intrusions. Although many believe that NGFW is not a perfect solution for every business, security professionals should weigh the pros and cons of incorporating NGFW, as it has a very compelling upside.

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