The network firewall is the first line of defense for traffic entering and exiting a network.
The firewall examines traffic to ensure that it meets the organization’s security requirements and that unauthorized access attempts are blocked.
Firewall protection has come a long way in recent years. Aside from monitoring internet traffic, the most recent network security firewall products include a slew of other features.
The latest firewalls can neutralize an attacker’s ability to use stolen credentials for lateral movement and network compromise. This is accomplished by mandating multi-factor authentication at the network layer.
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Network Firewall Security Basics
Packet filtering firewalls, the most “basic” and oldest type of firewall architecture, essentially create a checkpoint at a traffic router or switch.
The firewall inspects information such as the destination and origination IP addresses, packet type, port number, and other surface-level information in data packets passing through the router without opening the packet to inspect its contents.
If an information packet fails the inspection, it is dropped.
The advantage of these firewalls is that they do not consume a lot of resources. As a result, they have a minor impact on system performance and are relatively simple. They are, however, relatively easy to circumvent when compared to firewalls with more robust inspection capabilities.
What is Network Firewall Security?
The purpose of network firewalls security is to filter internet transmissions so that only legitimate traffic enters an organization.
Decisions are made based on predefined rules or policies. Firewalls, like many other areas of technology, have advanced significantly over time and are now more sophisticated in terms of efficacy and deployment flexibility.
They have evolved to be able to be deployed in completely virtual environments, for example, to protect data transferred to and from the cloud or to protect remote branches.
“Firewalls have also greatly improved their ability to integrate threat defense and intelligence to protect against a variety of threats such as botnets, command and control servers, advanced persistent threats (APTs), and zero-day threats,” said Mihir Maniar, Juniper Networks’ vice president of Security Business and Strategy.
What is a Firewall?
A firewall, at its most basic, is a barrier that sits between a private internal network and the public Internet. The primary function of a firewall is to allow non-threatening traffic in while keeping dangerous traffic out.
A firewall is a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and determines whether or not to allow or block specific traffic based on a set of firewall rules.
For over 25 years, firewalls have served as the first line of defense in firewall network security. They create a barrier between secure and controlled internal networks that can be trusted and untrustworthy external networks like the Internet.
The firewall serves as a barrier between a private internal network and the public Internet. The primary function of a firewall is to allow non-threatening traffic in while keeping dangerous traffic out.
A network firewall security can be either hardware or software.
Software vs. Hardware Firewalls
Firewalls can be hardware or software-based. A firewall, in addition to limiting access to a protected computer and network, can log all network traffic entering and exiting the network and manage remote access to a private network via secure authentication certificates and logins.
- Hardware firewalls: These firewalls are available as standalone products for corporate use, or as integrated components of routers or other networking devices. They are regarded as a necessary component of any traditional security system and network configuration. Hardware firewalls almost always include at least four network ports for connecting to multiple systems. A more comprehensive networking firewall solution is available for larger networks.
- Software firewalls: These are either installed on a computer or provided by the manufacturer of an operating system or network device. They are customizable and offer a lower level of control over functions and security features. A software firewall can protect a system from common control and access attempts, but it cannot protect against more sophisticated network breaches.
A network firewall security is an example of endpoint protection technology. A firewall can be considered the first line of defense in protecting private information, but it cannot be the only defense.
Types of Network Firewall Security
Firewalls can be either software or hardware, though it is preferable to have both. A software firewall is a program that is installed on each computer and regulates traffic via port numbers and applications, whereas a physical firewall is a piece of hardware that is installed between your network and gateway.
The most common type of firewall, packet filtering firewall, examines packets and prevents them from passing through if they do not match an established security rule set.
This type of firewall verifies the source and destination IP addresses of the packet. If packets match an “allowed” rule on the firewall, they are allowed to enter the network.
1. Next-generation firewalls (NGFW)
It integrates traditional firewall technology with additional features such as encrypted traffic inspection, intrusion prevention systems, anti-virus, and more. Its most notable feature is deep packet inspection (DPI).
While basic firewalls only examine packet headers, deep packet inspection examines the data within the packet itself, allowing users to more effectively identify, categorize, and stop malicious packets. Find out more about Forcepoint NGFW here.
2. Proxy firewall
It uses application-level filtering to filter network traffic. Unlike traditional firewalls, the proxy acts as a go-between for two end systems.
The client must send a request to the firewall, which must then evaluate it against a set of security rules before allowing or blocking it. The proxy firewall, in particular, monitors traffic for layer 7 protocols such as HTTP and FTP and detects malicious traffic using both stateful and deep packet inspection.
3. Network address translation (NAT)
It enables multiple devices with distinct network addresses to connect to the internet using a single IP address while concealing individual IP addresses.
As a result, attackers scanning a network for IP addresses are unable to capture specific details, increasing security against attacks. NAT firewalls, like proxy firewalls, serve as an intermediary between a group of computers and outside traffic.
4. Stateful multilayer inspection (SMLI) firewalls
It filters packets at the network, transport, and application layers by comparing them to known trustworthy packets. SMLI, like NGFW firewalls, examines the entire packet and only allows it to pass if it passes each layer individually.
These firewalls examine packets to determine the state of the communication (hence the name) to ensure that all initiated communication occurs only with trusted sources.
Any type of firewall that is installed on a local device rather than a separate piece of hardware is considered a software firewall (or a cloud server).
A major advantage of using a software firewall is that it can be used to create defense in depth by isolating individual network endpoints from one another.
Maintaining individual software firewalls on different devices, on the other hand, can be difficult and time-consuming. Furthermore, not every device on a network may be compatible with a single software firewall, requiring the use of multiple software firewalls to protect every asset.
Hardware firewalls employ a physical appliance that functions similarly to a traffic router in intercepting data packets and traffic requests before they reach the network’s servers.
Physical appliance-based firewalls like this one excel at perimeter security by intercepting malicious traffic from outside the network before it reaches the company’s network endpoints.
The main weakness of a hardware-based firewall is that it is frequently easy for insider attacks to bypass it. Furthermore, the actual capabilities of a hardware firewall may differ depending on the manufacturer—for example, some may have a lower capacity to handle simultaneous connections than others.
CONCLUSION On Firewall Limitations
The most recent firewalls include a plethora of security features. Next-generation firewalls may also include services such as data loss protection, threat intelligence, malware detection, DDoS defense, and more, depending on the vendor.
However, no single vendor will provide a firewall that includes every single zone of required security technology. So, by all means, include them. Use their enhanced capabilities to your advantage. However, don’t overlook other aspects of enterprise security.
Network firewalls (or virtual network firewalls in the cloud) are essential for perimeter security.
However, they are only one component of a comprehensive security strategy that includes perimeter, network, endpoint, application, and data security, as well as policy management and operations.
Once the bad guys get in, which they will, other components of the security infrastructure must be activated.
FAQs About Network Firewall Security
What are the 3 types of firewalls?
Companies use three types of firewalls to protect their data and devices and keep malicious elements out of their networks: packet filters, stateful inspection, and proxy server firewalls. Let us give you a quick rundown of each of these.
Do I need a firewall for my home network?
You require a firewall. It’s simply too dangerous to leave your computer “naked” on the internet unless you know exactly what you’re doing. A firewall protects your computer from uninvited outside connections via the internet. This safeguards you against network-based malware.
What are network firewalls used for?
Network firewalls are security devices that are used to prevent or reduce unauthorized access to private networks connected to the Internet, particularly intranets. Firewall policies define the only traffic allowed on the network; any other traffic attempting to access the network is blocked.
What is a network firewall and how does it work?
Network firewalls are security devices that prevent or limit unauthorized access to private networks connected to the Internet, particularly intranets. Firewall policies define the only traffic allowed on the network; any other traffic attempting to access the network is blocked.
What is network security?
Network security is a set of technologies that protects the usability and integrity of a company’s infrastructure by preventing a wide range of potential threats from entering or spreading within a network.