Next-Generation Firewall

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A Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) is an integrated network platform that combines a traditional firewall with other network device filtering functionalities such as an application firewall using in-line deep packet inspection (DPI), an intrusion prevention system (IPS) and/or other techniques such as SSL and SSH interception, website filtering, QoS/bandwidth management, antivirus inspection and third-party integration (i.e. Active Directory).[1]

Next-Generation Firewall vs. Traditional Firewall[edit]

NGFWs include the typical functions of traditional firewalls such as packet filtering,[2] network- and port-address Translation (NAT), stateful inspection, and virtual private network (VPN) support.[3] The goal of next generation firewalls is to include more layers of the OSI model to improve filtering of network traffic dependent on the packet contents.[4]

NGFWs perform deeper inspection compared to stateful inspection performed by the first- and second-generation firewalls.[5] They go deeper to inspect the payload of packets and match signatures for harmful activities such as known vulnerabilities, exploit attacks, viruses and malware.[6]

Gartner defines an NGFW as "a wire-speed integrated network platform that performs deep inspection of traffic and blocking of attacks." At minimum, Gartner states an NGFW should provide:[7]

• Non-disruptive in-line bump-in-the-wire configuration

• Standard first-generation firewall capabilities, e.g., network-address translation (NAT), stateful protocol inspection (SPI) and virtual private networking (VPN), etc.

• Integrated signature based IPS engine

• Application awareness, full stack visibility and granular control

• Capability to incorporate information from outside the firewall, e.g., directory-based policy, blacklists, white lists, etc.

• Upgrade path to include future information feeds and security threats

• SSL decryption to enable identifying undesirable encrypted applications

Evolution of Next-Generation Firewalls[edit]

Modern threats like web-based malware attacks, targeted attacks, application-layer attacks, and more, are quickly changing the threat landscape from bad to critical. In fact, greater than 80% of all new malware and intrusion attempts are exploiting weaknesses in applications, as opposed to weaknesses in networking components and services.[8] Stateful firewalls with simple packet filtering capabilities were good at the job of blocking unwanted applications as most applications met the port-protocol expectations. Administrators could promptly prevent an unsafe application from being accessed by users by blocking the associated ports and protocols. But today, blocking an application like Farmville that uses port 80 by closing the port would also mean blocking other applications like SharePoint and that also use port 80, which most organizations cannot afford to do. Protection based on ports, protocols, IP addresses is no more reliable and viable. This has led to the development of Identity-based security approach, which takes organizations a step ahead of conventional security appliances which bind security to IP-addresses.

Additionally, for want of easy availability and cost savings to the business, many client-server applications like and Google’s Office Suite are moving to the web to become web-based services. Such critical business applications have today become indistinguishable from the less important applications in a business network that also utilize HTTP for the purpose of network communications. Enterprises, therefore, need a deeper awareness of and control over individual applications along with deeper inspection capabilities by the firewall that allow administrators to create very granular allow/deny rules for controlling use of websites and applications in the network.

Bolt-on security solutions ineffective[edit]

Deploying stand-alone security products like Intrusion Prevention System, URL filtering, Anti-Virus/Anti-malware, and more, proves inadequate in increasing the effectiveness of the first-generation firewalls.[citation needed][examples needed] The near-sightedness of Stateful Inspection firewalls rubs on to the added solutions [clarification needed] as these solutions work based on limited efficacy of these firewalls with their ports/ protocols-based classification techniques. "Device sprawl"[buzzword] arising out of multiple solutions adds complexities of cost, maintenance and management for the organizations.[relevant? ]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Intro to Next Generation Firewalls - By Eric Geier, 06 September, 2011
  2. ^ Next gen security - by Ben Rossi - 07 August, 2012
  3. ^ Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) - Network Intelligence
  5. ^ Next-generation firewalls: Security without compromising performance - By Patrick Sweeney, 17 October 2012
  6. ^ Next-Generation Firewalls 101 - By Frank J. Ohlhorst, 1 March 2013
  7. ^ Defining the Next-Generation Firewall - Gartner RAS Core Research Note G00171540, John Pescatore, Greg Young, 12 October 2009, R3210 04102010
  8. ^ Next Generation Firewalls: Restoring Effectiveness Through Application Visibility and Control - by Palo Alto