What to Look for in a Next-Generation Firewall

cyber securityFirewalls play a big role in protecting network infrastructure from data breaches and malicious attacks. But as IT security threats evolve, firewalls must also advance to remain effective. A next-generation firewall solution can include a variety of things, such as monitoring network endpoints or handling BYOD (bring your own device) connections. Here are a few qualities to seek out when looking at a next-gen firewall.

Adapting to third-party attacks
Firewalls must be prepared for the various methods hackers use to penetrate network defenses. Your modern firewall should be able to identify and block incoming connections from proxies or tunneling applications.

Monitoring SSL traffic
Enforced through policy, a firewall must monitor the types of inbound and outbound traffic on your network. The firewall should allow SSL approved traffic per management specifications while also sorting through what isn’t allowed on the organization’s network.

Adaptive program environment control
All applications and software come with their own functionalities. It’s important your firewall monitor these functionalities and “watch” for unexpected changes in their capabilities.

For instance, management may have approved file sharing over its internal network on applications but not a messaging service. Therefore, blocking potential changes is crucial to keep sensitive data from being compromised.

Monitor for malware in file-share applications
Even though your organization has approved its programs, this does not prevent them from infection. This is especially the case for file sharing programs, where dangerous malware or viruses can roam about freely. It’s important for your next-gen firewall to watch for and prevent these potential intrusions.

Manage network policy for each application
All programs used by your business will have their own profiles and potential dangers. Some programs can file share, while others can create chat sessions within the program (or website). Your firewall must monitor each application and enforce policy based on each one. For instance, no file sharing on a chat-capable program, only through approved channels.

Extending control to remote devices
Working from home or remote working potential has increased over the years. The ability to remain productive on the go has proved invaluable to businesses and their employees alike.

However, your next-gen firewall must enforce all network and security policies on remote devices, regardless of location. Any remote connection not following the same guidelines brings serious risk to business networks.

Look for ease of use and simplicity
Managing profiles for individuals, their devices, programs, and platforms can seem like a monumental task. In many cases, this is true, as thousands of network rules appear insurmountably complex. Therefore, when considering next-gen firewall solutions, look for those that greatly simplify the process. Ease of use is just as critical as the kind of policies enforced.

Other considerations for next-gen firewalls are still important, such as cost and port management. However, among the qualities to look for, the ones listed above are some of the most crucial. Follow those guidelines and you will discover a firewall that suits the needs of your business, while simultaneously adapting for the future.

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