Palo Alto Networks

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Palo Alto Networks
Traded as NYSEPANW[1]
Industry Network Security
Founded 2005
Headquarters Santa Clara, CA, U.S.
Area served
Key people
Mark D. McLaughlin
Chairman, President, and CEO
Nir Zuk
Founder and CTO
Rajiv Batra
Founder and Vice President, Engineering

Palo Alto Networks, Inc. is an American network security company based in Santa Clara, California. The company’s core products are advanced firewalls designed to provide network security, visibility and granular control of network activity based on application, user, and content identification.


Palo Alto Networks was founded in 2005 by Nir Zuk, a former engineer from Check Point and NetScreen Technologies. Zuk was the principal developer of the first stateful inspection firewall and the first intrusion prevention system.[2] When asked why he started Palo Alto Networks, Zuk cited his objective of solving a problem enterprises were facing with existing network security solutions: the inability to safely enable employees to use modern applications, which entailed developing a firewall that could identify and provide fine-grained control of applications.[3]

The company produced and shipped its first firewall in 2007.[4] and debuted on the NYSE with its July 20, 2012 initial public offering.[5]


In 2009 Gartner, Inc. released a publication defining the 'next-generation firewall'.[6] As in its definition, Palo Alto Networks firewalls contain application awareness, full stack visibility, extra-firewall intelligence, and upgrade paths in addition to the full capabilities of both traditional firewalls and intrusion prevention systems. Additionally, the company defines its firewall technology by the following abilities:

  1. Identify applications regardless of port, protocol, evasive tactic or Secure Sockets Layer
  2. Identify and control users regardless of IP address, location or device
  3. Protect against known and unknown application-borne threats
  4. Fine-grained visibility and policy control over application access/functionality
  5. Multi-gigabit, low latency, in-line deployment[7]

Palo Alto Networks firewalls replace the traditional port-based traffic classification mechanism of stateful inspection with application identification. This largely affects the access control function of the firewall, which is built for increased visibility into, and more granular control over what traffic is or is not allowed on a network. Policy controls can be deployed to deny unwanted applications, and allow specific applications or functions for users or groups, regardless of their location or device, through directory service integration.[8]

As a clarification point, stateful inspection technology is present in Palo Alto Networks firewalls, and policy can be created and enforced by port or protocol. However, it does not serve as the primary traffic classifier. It is the only enterprise firewall currently using application identification as a primary traffic classification mechanism.

Palo Alto Networks firewalls also have threat prevention mechanisms, providing intrusion prevention and antivirus. Additional functionality includes malware prevention (i.e. APTs, botnets, and targeted attacks), URL filtering, SSL decryption, data filtering, quality of service, site-to-site and remote user virtual private networking, and custom reporting.


Palo Alto Networks markets ten platforms, ranging from 50 Mbit/s – 120 Gbit/s of firewall throughput. In 2010 the company added GlobalProtect and WildFire. GlobalProtect extends the same firewall policies used at headquarters locations to users in any location. The technology was built to help corporate security perimeters follow its users in the increasing adoption of mobile devices and cloud-based access.[9]In 2013 MSM - Mobile Security manager was added to extend the firewall security down to mobile devices. In 2014 TRAPS was added to the product list. Traps serves as a version on endpoint protection, client protection without the standard virus file - rather it takes a different view and attempts to monitor, detect and thwart the entry of the virus into the client by monitoring common entries points.

WildFire is a mechanism for identifying and protecting enterprises from unknown malware. It analyzes files for malicious behavior in a virtualized environment and alerts users of its results. If malware is found, WildFire automatically generates and delivers a signature as an update to its subscribers within 15 minutes. WildFire was built for the purpose of protecting enterprises from previously unknown or highly targeted malware.


  • Morta Security was acquired for an undisclosed sum in January 2014[10][11]
  • Cyvera was acquired for approximately $200 million in April 2014[12][13]


Recognition from industry analysts and labs for Palo Alto Networks firewalls include:

  • The 2011 Gartner Magic Quadrant identified Palo Alto Networks as a leader in the enterprise firewall.[14]
  • NetworkWorld granted short list status to Palo Alto Networks’ firewalls in its next-generation firewall review in 2011 and 2012.[15]
  • NSS Labs rated Palo Alto Networks firewalls “Recommended” in 3 network security tests:
    • IPS Group Test (2011) in which NSS Labs notes it exceeded datasheet performance[16]
    • Traditional Firewall Group Test (2011); additionally, evaluated as best cost solution per protected megabit[16]
    • Next-Generation Firewall Group Test (2012) also receiving an evaluation as best cost solution per protected megabit[17]
  • The Forrester Research Market Overview for Intrusion Prevention Systems in 2011 credited Palo Alto Networks with “[disrupting] the detente between IPS and firewalls” and “pushing the entire vendor community toward further innovation.”[18]


  1. ^ "PANW: Summary for Palo Alto Networks, Inc. Common- Yahoo! Finance". Yahoo! Finance. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Leyden, John (22 October 2010). "US and UK gov cyber defences = big boys' trough-slurp". The Register. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Entrepreneur Questionnaire: Nir Zuk, Founder and CTO of Palo Alto Networks". Greylock Partners. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Vance, Ashlee (20 October 2011). "Building a Firewall for the Facebook Generation". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Savitz, Eric (20 July 2012). "Kayak, Palo Alto Networks IPOs Off To Strong Debuts". Forbes. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  6. ^ Pescatore, John; Young, Greg, Defining the Next Generation Firewall, retrieved 2 December 2012 
  7. ^ Next-Generation Firewall Overview, 2011, retrieved 2 December 2012 
  8. ^ "PA-5000 Series Specsheet". Palo Alto Networks. 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  9. ^ Mathew J. Schwartz (22 June 2010). "Palo Alto Introduces Security For Cloud, Mobile Users". InformationWeek. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  10. ^ Rao, Leena (6 January 2014). "Palo Alto Networks Buys Cyber Security Startup Founded By Former NSA Engineers, Morta". TechCrunch. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "Palo Alto Networks® Acquires Morta Security". Palo Alto Networks. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  12. ^ Rao, Leena (24 March 2014). "Palo Alto Networks Buys Cyber Security Company Cyvera For $200M". TechCrunch. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "Palo Alto Networks® Completes Acquisition of Cyvera". Palo Alto Networks. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Palo Alto Networks Hits The Magic Quadrant For Firewalls". The Wall Street Journal. December 16, 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Snyder, Joel (22 August 2011). "Palo Alto earns short list status". Network World. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewalls Earns "Recommended" Rating in NSS Labs Network Firewall 2011 Comparative Test". Palo Alto Networks. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "Palo Alto Networks Earns 'Recommended' Rating in NSS Labs' Next-Generation Firewall Group Test". Palo Alto Networks. 27 February 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2014. 
  18. ^ Kindervag, John (4 May 2011). "Market Overview: Intrusion Prevention Systems, Q2 2011". Forrester. Retrieved 8 September 2014.