Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) are a critical component of any organisation's cybersecurity strategy. In 2023, we saw several new developments in the NGFW market, as vendors continue to innovate to meet the needs of organizations in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.
NGFW 2024 trends
One of the most significant trends in the NGFW market is the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI and ML can be used to develop more sophisticated NGFW features, such as the ability to detect and block zero-day attacks, as well as to automate security tasks. For example, some NGFWs now use AI to analyse traffic patterns and identify anomalous behaviour that may indicate a cyber-attack.
Another important trend is enhanced protection against cloud-based threats. As more and more organizations move their data and applications to the cloud, they need NGFWs that can protect them from cloud-based attacks. Many NGFWs now offer features such as cloud security posture management (CSPM) and cloud workload security (CWS) to help organizations protect their cloud environments.
In addition, NGFWs are becoming more flexible and scalable to meet the needs of hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Hybrid and multi-cloud environments combine on-premises and cloud-based resources, which can make them complex and difficult to secure. NGFWs can help organizations secure their hybrid and multi-cloud environments by providing a single point of control for network security.
Finally, NGFWs are now incorporating user behaviour analytics (UBA) capabilities to help organizations detect and respond to insider threats and other suspicious activity. UBA can be used to analyse user behaviour patterns and identify anomalies that may indicate a malicious actor. For example, UBA can be used to identify users who are accessing sensitive data at unusual times or from unusual locations.
These are just a few of the new developments that we saw in the NGFW market in the past year. As cyber threats continue to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovation in the NGFW space in 2024. Organisations that are looking to improve their network security posture should consider NGFWs with the latest features and capabilities.
Next-gen firewall explained
There are many types of malware that a firewall can protect against these days, including ransomware, viruses, worms, trojans, adware, and more. Next-Generation Firewalls take it a step further, by offering the ability to not only identify but also completely block malware before it enters your network. NGFWs can swiftly detect and combat attacks across the entire network. As cyber-attacks continue to become more sophisticated, next-generation firewalls will continue to be essential components of any organisation’s security solution, whether you’re in a data centre, network, or cloud.
Reviewing next-generation firewalls and their capabilities is one of the steps that need to be taken to significantly improve an organisation’s security. Cyberattacks and advanced hacking methodologies these days not only drive enterprises to look for next-generation firewalls, but they also drive next-generation firewall vendors to optimise and update their solutions.
Malicious emails, phishing schemes, and other threats concealed in content can be hard to detect. Luckily, many next-generation firewall vendors offer the threat prevention capabilities IT security staff is looking for. The best firewalls include application awareness, centralised management features, Deep Packet Inspection, 100Gbps threat protection, as well as hybrid cloud security. For example, to help defend against the rise of malware, intrusion attempts bypass perimeter protection and other advanced threats.
Next-generation capabilities have been achieved by all solutions in the enterprise network firewall market, but vendors differentiate on feature strengths and depth. NGFW should be on every company's shortlist. - Mohamed El Haddouchi, CTO, Nomios
NGFW solution features to look for
Most NGFW solutions providers offer different types of firewalls; physical, virtual and containerised firewalls. Physical firewalls are available for all types of organisations, ranging from small and midsized enterprise campuses to large enterprise data centres and everything in between. Virtual firewalls provide protection in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, and Oracle Cloud environments. Container firewalls offer security services to improve visibility and secure applications running in containers and microservices. Depending on your situation, there is always an NGFW that will fit your needs. Next, it is smart to look at the different features that firewalls offer.
Features offered by the best NGFWs solutions include IDS/IPS, support for single-enterprise firewalls as well as branch offices, web proxy and URL filtering, Web Application Firewalling and virtual versions that can be deployed within the cloud.
For an NGFW solution comparison, it’s crucial to look for differences in the:
- Third-party security product integration capabilities;
- Ease of installation and use;
- Effectiveness at blocking threats;
- Additional features such as application visibility and cloud protection;
- And of course: pricing and consumption models.
The vendors in this article have been placed in random order. We do not endorse our readers to select only those vendors mentioned in this article. Our research consists of the opinion of our experts and should not be construed as statements of fact. When an organisation wishes to know which solutions fit them best, please contact Nomios. We are happy to help you in your search for the right solution.
Here are our picks for the 5 best solutions for NGFW in 2024
Palo Alto Networks NGFW
Palo Alto was recognised by Forrester as the Leader for Enterprise Firewalls in the Forrester™ Wave in Q4 2022. And by Gartner® they have been named a Leader for elenth consecutive years in its Magic Quadrant™ for Network Firewalls. We expect that in 2024 Gartner and Forrester will publish new research on the best NGFWs.
Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewalls consist of physical appliances (PA-series), virtualised firewalls (VM-series) and container firewalls (CN-series). They are all based on a consistent single-pass architecture and inspect all traffic, including all applications, threats, and content, and tie that traffic to the user, regardless of location or device type. They can secure multi-cloud businesses with their cloud identity engine and protect organisations from the SaaS explosion with an integrated CASB. Palo Alto has brought the power of inline machine learning to their cloud-delivered security services, where they established threat coverage in DNS security, web protection from unknown threats in advanced URL filtering and real-time protection with WildFire malware analysis.
In 2022 Palo Alto announced that they have teamed up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to unveil their new Cloud NGFW for AWS. In August 2023 they launched the Cloud NGFW for Azure. A managed NGFW running as an Azure-native ISV service. This service is designed to streamline and simplify operations while strengthening security for customers running on Microsoft Azure.
Having been recognised for the 12th time in the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Network Firewalls and being a Leader in the Forrester Wave™ for Enterprise Firewalls in Q4 2022, FortiGates are NGFWs worth considering. Powered by a single OS, FortiGate network firewalls, whether physical, virtual or delivered from the cloud, are designed to protect any edge at any scale while providing a seamless experience for users and administrators.
The FortiGate firewall product line is available for all firewall deployment use cases. It is also available for public cloud platforms. Fortinet ensures continuous innovation, providing customers with access to cutting-edge security tools they need to enable digital business success. The Fortinet next-generation firewalls are high-performance appliances adding intrusion prevention, application control, and anti-malware to the traditional firewall-VPN combination. This NGFW vendor provides one platform for end-to-end security across your network.
In March 2023 Fortinet announced enhanced products and services for operational technology (OT) environments as an expansion of the Security Fabric for OT. They released FortiGate 70F Rugged NGFW. The latest addition to their portfolio is designed for harsh environments. It features a compact design runs on a single processor. Next to this, it is IP40 rated and certified for power, utility and railway industry requirements.
Juniper Networks SRX firewalls
The Juniper Networks firewall product line is the SRX series of NGFWs, which is available as hardware appliances (SRX), virtual appliances (vSRX) and containers (cSRX). vSRX can be hosted on the customer’s own hypervisor or run on AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. The Juniper Networks SRX Series NGFWs combine high-performance security with integrated services for application security, intrusion protection and advanced threat detection for organisations of all sizes.
The on-premises devices ingest and analyse data from any third-party firewall or security data source. This enables enterprises to respond to threats with one touch, detect malware and it also helps avoid vendor lock-in. With Juniper's ATP platform as an open ecosystem, it works in conjunction with any firewall and SIEM. This makes it very compatible and it can be used right away in an environment. Detection and analysis, as well as automation, also enable the ability to do one-touch mitigation. A pretty unique way of approaching advanced malware.
Juniper Networks has introduced a new architecture design, the Juniper Connected Security Distributed Services Architecture, which includes AI-based predictive threat support and a new family of SRX Series firewalls. The new architecture is incorporated into the vendor's core Junos operating system (version 23.4) and enables zero trust policy enforcement, intrusion detection, and prevention across distributed data centre networks. With this architecture, Juniper's SRX Series firewalls can now detect malicious threats within encrypted traffic using AI/ML behaviour analysis without decryption.
The SRX firewalls can also automatically generate custom signatures unique to the customer's environment. Additionally, Juniper has released four new SRX firewalls. The SRX1600 and SRX2300 will be available by the end of 2023 and the SRX4300 and SRX4700 will follow shortly after. They support a variety of link speeds and include embedded Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 chips for secure provisioning.
Cisco Secure Firewall
Cisco has been a strong player in the world of NGFW for many years and offers multiple firewall product lines. Such as Cisco Secure Firewall (formerly Firepower), Cisco Secure Workload (formerly Tetration) and Meraki MX series.
Cisco Secure firewalls are available in many form-factors scaling from the branch site to a carrier-grade data centre. These firewalls are also available as virtual firewalls to enable security in private and/or public cloud environments.
During Cisco Live in June 2023, they introduced its Cisco Secure Firewall 4200 series running the new 7.4 version of the operating system. It offers AI and machine learning-based encrypted threat blocking without decryption. It also has ZTNA capabilities and simplified branch routing. It was released in September 2023 and the 7.4 OS will be available for the rest of the Secure Firewall appliances in December 2023.
Did you know that Nomios offers managed firewall services? Our managed firewall services take care of the day-to-day management of your firewall operations, providing improved availability and guaranteeing continuity. Managing your security infrastructure is not just about keeping firewalls up-to-date with patches and fixes. We ensure that security measures are up to date by actively monitoring access to the internet from the company network, responding to critical alerts, compiling management reports, and providing guidance on optimising firewall configurations.
Forcepoint’s network security portfolio includes nine different firewall series, with different purposes. All series include centralised management, and extensive security such as VPN, IPS, encrypted inspection, SD-WAN and mission-critical application proxies. They did not start with firewall solutions back in 1993, they began as a reseller for network security products.
According to the Gartner® research, the network firewalls of Forcepoint are a good candidate for distributed office use cases where users are looking for mature SD-WAN, VPN and centralised management capabilities.
According to Forcepoint themselves, their NGFW is designed specifically to cut the complexity and time needed to get your network running smoothly and securely. And to keep it there. The Forcepoint Next-Gen Firewall is built around a unified software core that provides consistent capabilities, acceleration and centralised management across all types of deployments. Their Security Management Centre (SMC) can configure, monitor and update up to 2000 Forcepoint NGFW appliances – physical, virtual, and cloud – all from a single pane of glass.
Nomios’ NGFW vendors
These NGFW vendors protect your network edge, data centre and cloud applications with physical, virtual and containerised firewalls. But did you know that according to Gartner, 99% of firewall breaches are caused by misconfigurations rather than firewall flaws? The Nomios network security experts can help you with the right configuration of your current firewall or help you in the search for a new NGFW. We understand that each organisation is different, so we'll help you in the search for an NGFW that fits your organisation best.
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