Malware, ransomware and other cyber threats have been on a rampage for years, unchecked and becoming smarter. There have been few protections which have stood the test off time like a firewall. Hardware Firewall has been a vital feature of every enterprise network since the invention of the internet, and like any important technology that really works, it has gone through several upgrades and shifts designed to respond to the changing network security needs of enterprise. There has always been a need to control incoming and outgoing network traffic and maintain security settings. It has long been trusted to prevent users from sharing, stealing or accidently leaving the door open for those with malicious intent, and to automatically respond to any threats without the need for a 24/7 administrator.
The first firewalls were created in the 1980’s to protect servers from outside threats, quickly followed by increasingly powerful updates and features. In recent years, enterprises have been relying on hardware and virtual firewall to protect their enterprise networks. Let’s explore a few of the newest firewall capabilities.
What are Hardware Firewall & Virtual Firewall?
A hardware firewall is positioned between network and devices, filtering traffic to protect both the network and individual computers from theft or data leakage. By filtering out unauthorized users and tracking their behaviour, hardware firewall reduces the amount of hidden movement in the network, often attributed to those with malicious intent. By setting up the hardware firewall between the devices and network, all traffic is forced through its filters, allowing more granular control of all traffic. Five of the biggest benefits of hardware firewall are its overall traffic control abilities, default rules for all traffic and granular control of all access.
Virtual firewall software performs many of the same functions as hardware firewall. Virtual firewall devices and services filter network traffic and monitor VMs, better known as virtual machines. As with traditional firewall, packets are filtered and inspected and security policies manage approval or disapproval of communication between virtual machines.
How are Hardware and Virtual Firewall Different?
The biggest difference between hardware firewall and virtual firewall, is that hardware firewall is an actual, physical device, deployed in a data center and plugged into the wall for power, just like most traditional technology. Virtual firewall is a digital solution deployed in the cloud, performing the same functions without the limitations of heavy, expensive and costly hardware.
Both types of firewall were developed to protect an enterprise network from outside threats, but virtual firewall security is proven better for PCs and businesses with remote workers in need of protection. Because virtual firewall is application-based, it offers better mobile protection for remote employees and PCs, while still allowing them total access to the enterprise network. Because hardware firewall is a physical appliance, it offers fantastic security for those inside an enterprise network, but with no reduction in protection for those traveling outside. Hardware firewall is more expensive than virtual firewall, making it great for large companies with unlimited budgets, but less fantastic for smaller enterprises. Virtual Firewall is most often deployed to protect virtualized environments due to their manageable cost, ease of use, and ease of cloud deployment. In addition to all these benefits, virtual firewalls are easy and less expensive to upgrade than more traditional firewall solutions, and are simple to maintain, creating more productive time for IT administrators.
5 Reasons to Switch from Hardware Firewall to Virtual Firewall
With COVID forcing a majority of enterprise employees work remotely, or in a hybrid remote environment, it’s important to choose the right type of firewall for the specific security needs of employees. Enterprises are steadily deploying more virtual firewalls for 5 primary reasons:
- Ease of HA (High Availability) Configuration
- Reduce reliance on costly power for hardware
- Less hardware required, moving you toward total digital transformation
- Fewer resources consumed, reducing reliance on end-of-life hardware
- Better Support with no costly wait for replacement hardware
What is Next Generation Firewall?
Next generation firewall (NGFW) is a departure from both virtual firewall and hardware firewall, combining the best elements of both with newer technology like AI and machine learning for more automation and extended protection. The next generation firewall was around $2993.2 million in 2019, and unsurprisingly, the market is expected to reach $3880.4 million or more by 2025. Next generation firewall, like Sangfor’s Next Generation Application Firewall (NGAF), are hybrid constructions of both virtual and hardware firewalls, providing better protection than ever before. A good next generation firewall solution like NGAF, offers better application awareness and security, provides threat intelligence and machine learning, malware and threat monitoring. Tracking, identification and blocking of incoming and outgoing communications is vital to enterprise network security, but remembering and learning from past attacks and threats is a unique feature for next generation firewalls.
Deploying the right firewall is the difference between ease and power, and attack and failure. Do your research to discover what type of firewall is best for you and your enterprise. COVID continues to force many employees to work remotely, making virtual firewall and next generation firewall the solution of choice for most. Choosing the right vendor is just as vital to the success of enterprise, as the choice in firewall type.
Sangfor Technologies is an APAC-based, global leading vendor of IT infrastructure solutions specializing in Network Security and Cloud Computing. Visit us at www.sangfor.com to learn more about Sangfor’s Security solutions and ransomware protection, and let Sangfor make your IT simpler, more secure and valuable.