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Next-generation
firewall security:
Why it may not
be enough for
your network

Author: Mark Stone

Firewalls are one of the most universally recognized cyber security solutions available. Even those with little knowledge of computers—let alone security—know what they are and probably use one.

For IT specialists, it's important to keep track of improvements in firewall technology and all the various emerging technologies that complement firewall security. Failing to do so means letting one of your first lines of defense fall short in an era when cyber crime is soaring.

Because of its ubiquity, there's a common notion that so-called “next-generation firewall” security will be the end-all security solution, solving once and for all the challenges firewalls have been facing for decades. In this article, we'll dispel some of the overreaching enthusiasm.

While next-generation firewall security is extremely powerful and will help businesses of all kinds improve their security posture, it's not perfect. It must instead be considered as just one component of a healthy cyber security strategy.

What is next-generation firewall security, and what makes it different?

Network firewall security, in simple terms, is the process of monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic and deciding which data is allowed to enter the network based on a set of pre-established rules. This traditional approach is called a stateful firewall and revolves around IP ports and addresses.

So how is next-generation firewall security different? It essentially does the same thing, but with a slew of additional features on top.

Let's explore the features and concrete benefits users can expect from next-gen firewalls.

What efficiency benefits does network firewall security offer?

Next-generation firewalls don't just filter traffic; they analyze the content being transferred across the whole network. The upgraded tech, compared to traditional firewall security, takes advantage of significant improvements in computing power, memory and storage space.

Additionally, they offer a wide range of modern features that put them above and beyond traditional firewalls:

  • Application control
  • Integrated intrusion prevention
  • Sandboxing
  • Single console access
  • Simplified network infrastructure
  • Antivirus and ransomware protection
  • Spam protection

It's clear that these benefits are valuable for businesses, allowing them to strengthen their cyber defenses and protect their assets—as attacks become more frequent and often more sophisticated.

And it's perhaps no surprise that many organizations have started assuming that next-generation firewalls are now all they need to stay secure. However, businesses need to be skeptical of the notion that network firewall security is an impenetrable fortress.

Why are the benefits of next-generation firewalls overblown?

While next-gen firewalls are undoubtedly a highly effective tool for IT and security teams, they still must be supplemented with additional security solutions.

One area, in particular, is that of endpoint security. The pandemic has completely reshaped the way businesses operate—driving many companies from an office-based model to a work-from-home, hybrid and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approach.

For security teams, the "new normal" poses significant challenges.

Security is no longer about defending fixed perimeters and static corporate headquarters. We must now think about security in terms of individual people and devices, defending network endpoints wherever they are being accessed—which might be a secure office or a train station cafe.

As powerful as they are, next-generation firewalls can neglect this need, leaving your company assets exposed as team members access crucial data from a range of different devices and areas.

A realistic application of firewall security technology

Next-generation firewall security technology is a necessity in today's landscape. Security teams should absolutely use these solutions to secure their networks and users.

However, next-gen firewalls do not represent the complete security picture. They must work within a robust and sophisticated security strategy, complete with endpoint security and solid policies, processes and other tech solutions.

A managed security solution can help you combine next-gen firewall technology with a multitude of other powerful features, giving you a complete security posture that can resist the increasingly complex threats facing businesses today.

Verizon's managed security services are specifically designed for this purpose. Our expert team will take care of your security, helping you combine next-generation firewall technology with a virtual private network (VPN), content scanning, network intrusion detection, endpoint security and much more.

Learn more about how Verizon can proactively manage your security around the clock, leaving your teams free to focus on business-critical tasks.