How Does a Next-Generation Firewall Work?

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Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) combine several next-level cybersecurity technologies to ensure multilayered network protection against advanced cyberthreats.

See below to learn all about how NGFWs work:

What technology is used for next-generation firewalls?

Next-generation firewalls incorporate a range of technologies, including secure sockets layer (SSL) and secure shell (SSH) inspection and application awareness as well as these others: 

AI and automation

Cyberattacks can destroy and steal data or resources in just a few minutes through faster data transfer. The rapidly enhancing artificial intelligence (AI) technology can help with instant protection.

Next-generation firewalls with AI are capable of improving enterprise security to avoid cyberattacks at any scale with complete visibility. The new firewalls use threat intelligence data to detect and prevent unknown cyberthreats. AI and automation allow NGFWs to detect threats and collectively take action before they affect any system.

Deep packet inspection

NGFWs are significantly different from a traditional firewall’s packet inspection and anti-malware methodology. Next-generation firewalls employ deep packet inspection technology by integrating intrusion prevention systems (IPS) as well as application intelligence and control.

DPI allows an NGFW solution to provide visibility of the network packets and extensive control over the applications. An NGFW with DPI capabilities can detect the packets containing malicious content in an application using analysis and signature comparison.

Intrusion prevention systems

Intrusion is simply any unauthorized activity that often involves stealing resources and data. AN intrusion prevention system (IPS) performs both detective and preventive technology, whereas a traditional intrusion detection system (IDS) only detects the anomaly and sends notifications.

Signature-based IPS and other sophisticated tools help to identify whether an external source is secure to prevent unknown cyberthreats. NGFWs with integrated IDS and IPS allow the detection of attacks based on network behavioral analysis (NBA), anomalous activity, or threat signatures.

See more: Why a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) is Important

What is the environment of NGFWs?

The performance of next-generation firewalls can vary based on the configuration and network environment. NGFWs enable unified and centralized administration and work on physical, virtual or cloud-based environments.

Physical environment

Most of the setups and configurations for network interfaces are stored on the management server. Physical interfaces Layer 2 on NGFW engines in the firewall/VPN role provide traffic inspection, and the physical interface Layer 3 connects to the same networks as the capture interfaces, but there are no virtual local area networks (VLANs).

The physical interface elements correspond to the network port on Layer 2. By default, physical interface numbering in the management client corresponds to the numbering of the operating system interface.

If the engine is the source or the final destination of the communications, the physical interfaces are used and define at least one interface dedicated to system communications and one or more traffic inspection interfaces for each IPS engine or Layer 2 Firewall.

Virtual environment

Companies need protection from cyberthreats, especially those organizations using public or private cloud deployments and software-defined networks (SDNs) or software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) to store and process data.

Virtual NGFW engines are simply logically separate and run as virtual instances on the physical NGFW appliance. The resources for virtual NGFW engines are provided by the master NGFW engine, which is a physical appliance.

NGFW’s virtualization functionalities ensure the security of the virtualized network environment of the organizations. The function performs similarly to a physical firewall, but it is deployed in the cloud, giving remotely located workers the same protection and access to the enterprise network.

See more: How Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) are Used by Softworx, PenChecks Trust, Flex, CNA, and Blackstone: Case Studies

Core functionality of next-generation firewalls

Next-generation firewalls deliver network protection against cyberthreats from external attacks, with a high level of network visibility and a variety of flexible management and deployment options:

  • Centralized management: NGFWs can be accessed from a single console. The unified threat management (UTM) capability of NGFWs allows them to deliver a wide range of security functionalities.
  • Threat prevention: Next-generation firewalls protect against cyberthreats across network, web, and application access. They monitor all network flow to deliver protection against external threats. With context-aware security features, they can identify attacks based on traffic behavioral analysis, unusual activity, or threat signatures.
  • Proxy-based manner: Proxy-based architecture design dynamically inspects network traffic for the users, applications, and devices at any location. The proxies of next-generation firewalls deliver protection against threat and data loss by terminating the connection for full inline inspection, and the TCP session proxy reduces the overall data throughput.

See more: 5 Top Next-Generation Firewall Software

Al Mahmud Al Mamun
Al Mahmud Al Mamun
Al Mahmud Al Mamun is a writer for TechnologyAdvice. He earned his B.S. in computer science and engineering from Prime University, Bangladesh. He attained more than 25 diploma courses and 100 certificate courses. His expertise and research interests include artificial intelligence (AI), artificial neural networks, and convolutional neural networks.

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