Today’s cyber threat landscape is forever expanding along with innovations in technology. This is why protecting your business with a next-generation firewall is vital.
NGFWs combine traditional firewall functions with multiple advanced capabilities, making them much more efficient and effective at protecting your network.
Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
What is NGFW with DPI capabilities? With a next-generation firewall (NGFW) at your network’s edge, DPI will catch the malware before it enters the network and endangers its assets. Deep packet inspection (DPI) analyzes the content of data packets, offering greater visibility and context into network traffic to identify potential threats. It’s more in-depth than traditional forms of stateful packet inspection, which only looks at the data headers to determine their destination or source. DPI looks at the data, making it a good fit for complex traffic management like QoS prioritization and content filtering.
The granular analysis offered by DPI also helps identify malicious software known as zero-day attacks that may not have been previously identified. Additionally, it can detect protocols and content violations by using heuristic analysis to thoroughly examine the structure and nature of data packets.
Telecom providers use DPI to better understand user behavior, applications, and data usage in their networks. It can be used for various reasons, including lawful intercept, policy definition and enforcement, quality of service optimization, and targeted advertising. It’s a key technology in combatting the increasing number of attacks targeting telecommunications networks. But it can also be abused for eavesdropping, internet censorship, and other activities that raise privacy concerns among net neutrality advocates and others.
NGFWs with Application Control can identify the traffic flow of applications and the users on network devices, making it possible to enforce granular zero-trust access controls.
Unlike packet filtering, which only looks at the IP and TCP sections of data packets (source and destination IP address, source and destination port), NGFWs can inspect the entire packet to look for things like malware signatures and other threats. For example, when a packet travels through an organization’s network, it may contain a request for a webpage. An NGFW will break the packet open to examine the HTTP section of the packet (webpage content) and compare it to known malicious content.
IT can use this to set security policies for their organization, such as ensuring that critical applications always get priority over latency-sensitive applications. It’s also a great tool to help them limit the spread of a cyberattack should it breach their systems by preventing unauthorized applications from being used on their endpoints.
IPS is a security technology that prevents attackers and unauthorized users from circumventing company security policies. This is achieved through identifying the malicious software and blocking it. IPS can be a standalone solution or part of an integrated next-generation firewall or UTM device.
Detecting attacks requires threat intelligence that continually reflects what’s happening in the wild. NGFWs with IPS can block a broader range of sophisticated hacking attempts than legacy firewalls.
Signature-based detection methods analyze network packets for attack signatures. These are unique characteristics or behaviors associated with a specific cyberattack, like the sequence of code used to exploit a vulnerability in a system. These are stored in an attack database constantly updated with new intelligence from external threat intelligence feeds.
Another method of detecting threats is anomaly-searching. This involves creating a model of typical network behavior and comparing ongoing traffic to it. When a deviation occurs, such as a process using more bandwidth than usual or a device opening a port it usually doesn’t use, the IPS will take action.
Malware can wreak havoc on your business by stealing critical customer data and intellectual property, and you need to be proactive in preventing this.
NGFWs go beyond packet filtering by inspecting deeper into the individual data packets. For example, IP traffic has a header section and a data section. NGFWs can decrypt and inspect the data section to see if it matches known malware signatures.
NGFWs also feature integrated IPS to help prevent attacks against your network. IPS looks for specific characteristics of known malicious attack signatures and acts on them in real-time. NGFWs can be further bolstered by threat intelligence from outside sources that identify new and evolving attack techniques so IPS can respond quickly to block those threats. Many NGFWs integrate machine learning and automation to be more autonomous solutions that require less maintenance from human network administrators.
Threat intelligence is a vital security step that helps you understand and prioritize threats. It combines all the data collected during the discovery phase with threat information and indicators of compromise to assess the impact on your business and inform your defensive strategy.
NGFWs can detect more malicious software than traditional firewalls because they inspect multiple OSI model layers, not just the network and transport layers, like a standard firewall. For example, a next-generation firewall can look at traffic at the application layer to identify specific applications or the code running inside those applications.
Then, they can apply additional layers of security to protect against attacks targeting those specific applications or the underlying infrastructure. This decisive step prevents advanced attacks before they can do significant damage.
NGFWs can be deployed as software on your endpoint or as hardware in your network. This is a significant improvement over the legacy firewalls that require hardware or virtual firewalls that eat up your physical resources. You can also get next-generation firewall capabilities in a SaaS solution that integrates with your other cybersecurity tools to create an integrated defense against modern threats.