Executive Perspectives, Security Connected

Next Generation Firewalls Are Mission-Critical

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By on Jul 29, 2013

The demands placed on enterprise networks are greater than at any time in the past.

Data analysis has transformed into big data analysis. Banks process millions of transactions per second. Cloud computing delivers Internet services to billions of customers around the world. These distributed, real-time, mission-critical enterprise operations are conducted every day with systems thousands of miles distant.

Downtime anywhere in the data center, server farm, or network is not an option. In fact, IT leaders say, in many of these enterprises continuous network availability is more important than network security.

But network threats have grown more sophisticated, too, and forward-looking IT and business leaders know that their potential for creating serious loss of data, reputation and network uptime is very real.

In the past, social engineering, common malware and internal theft were the greatest threats to corporate information systems, and they are still significant. But increasingly, we’re seeing more advanced threats with sophisticated evasion capabilities. Some of these threats operate at multiple protocol levels, and are capable of rapidly proliferating throughout the IT infrastructure.

Embedded exploits within some advanced threats are known to extract key data, compromise network hardware and create system-wide damage. In other words, they are capable of costly impacts on network uptime.

Perhaps equally disturbing is an emerging trend of malware as a service, whereby anyone, anywhere can hire an expert to deliver threats and exploits to a target system. This means advanced threats could quickly become pervasive or, like the Trojan virus, ubiquitous across multiple platforms.

These concerns – the emergence of advanced threats, the potential to compromise network hardware, and the risk of pervasive, multiplatform deployment – don’t even have to merge to create a critical situation. The risk to business continuity and trust from any one of these challenges is already monumental.

A security solution which recognizes the imperative of network uptime while operating in real-time to mitigate the threat of dynamic, advanced malware is fast becoming a top IT priority.

Clearly, advanced threats can evade many existing firewall solutions.

Similarly, because most existing enterprise firewall environments consist of an amalgam of products, they have neither the flexibility nor the centralized management necessary to rapidly mitigate advanced evasion techniques.

Existing firewalls are challenged, but no one is suggesting that they should go away. In fact, the opposite is true: new firewalls with real-time advanced evasion detection capabilities are more critical than ever.

Next generation firewalls must be fast and flexible enough to operate dynamically, scalable enough to adjust to rapidly changing system and platform requirements, centralized to enable comprehensive management and control, and sufficiently expert to identify and mitigate a wide range of advanced threats and exploits in real time. In other words, they must be capable of creating an informed, interactive security posture.

What was once a futuristic, almost science fiction scenario is now reality. Advanced intrusions are now evasive, intelligent and broadly capable of a range of destructive behaviors. The next-generation firewall – capably outfitted – is now a business imperative and the strongest line of defense protecting critical IT assets against advanced, evasive and pervasive network intrusions.

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