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What is Hardware Firewall and Why Does it Matter? | Sangfor NGAF

2021-09-15
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What is Hardware FirewallMalware, ransomware, trojan infections. Credential abuse, brute force attacks. Enough to deal with, without vulnerabilities and exploits already within the technology you use and rely on. Websites are shut down due to defacement and APT attacks daily. According to the Network Security Firewall Market report, “The global network security firewall industry generated $3.48 billion in 2020, and is estimated to generate $24.34 billion by 2030, witnessing a CAGR of 21.6% from 2020 to 2030.”


There are so many ways to lose your business and your money through unsafe internet and network security practices, so what are we missing? Let’s explore the world of network firewall, and why it’s the solution of choice for enterprise in 2021.


What is Hardware Firewall?

A hardware firewall, sometimes referred to as network or next-generation firewall, acts as a network gatekeeper. It is a physical piece of hardware, installed between the network elements, and user devices. It is responsible for filtering traffic for anomalies that might indicate a threat to users, the network, or devices. By filtering out unauthorized users or those with suspicious behavior, hardware firewall is an important element of a zero-trust network. Because of its position between the network and user devices, traffic is funneled through it for maximum control. Hardware firewall users love the granular traffic control, default rule-setting to help automate security, and control of all user access and behavior. 


Who Needs Hardware Firewall?

Hardware firewall is being widely adopted in a range of different scenarios including:

 
  • In enterprises that require higher security for a network of computers.
  • Enterprises who need total security for their operational areas, without risk of breach. 
  • Those where they have the human resources needed to maintain the firewall and equipment. 
  • Businesses who require reliability and the ability to totally control their environment.
  • Businesses who perform upgrades frequently

Benefits of Hardware Firewall

Hardware Firewall relies on the hardware for information security and have many benefits including:


  • Reduced latency means less time is taken to process a packet.
  • Consistent security means security policies are applied to every device and user on the network equally.
  • Centralized management means single-pane-of-glass simplicity of management of your network security.
  • Increased bandwidth means a higher number of data packets are processed per second.
  • More automated information data traffic control means increased security
  • Access to a VPN connection brings more encryption capabilities and security to the network, and protects traveling or remote employees to a higher degree. 

How to Choose a Hardware Firewall for your Enterprise

When looking into your first hardware firewall, you should always start by following a few easy steps. 

  1. Look into capabilities
    You wouldn’t buy just any car, would you? It’s important to choose a car that works with both your lifestyle and your budget. It’s the same with your hardware firewall. Decide what types of capabilities you can’t live without, and square that with your budget. Hardware firewall is an arguably big investment, so making the right choice is crucial.

  2. Look at existing customer reviews and start with Gartner
    Word of mouth is the best place to find the truth about a product or service. Gartner Inc. is a great site to start your search for your hardware firewall solution. Gartner analysts are trusted the world over for their expert insight into IT solutions of all kinds. Start your research right here with Gartner’s Peer Insights page, where real professional users post their reviews of products they use daily. 

  3. Look into ease of integration with other solutions
    Just as we discussed before, good network security is layer upon layer of different security solutions, all on the foundation of hardware firewall. Endpoint solutions, next generation firewall, anti-virus, management platforms and threat hunting capabilities – all layered perfectly to make a network as impenetrable as possible. You must ensure that your hardware firewall solution can integrate easily with other security products from other vendors.

  4. Look at the location vs. capabilities
    Different types of the world are targeted by different types of cyber threat. In Asia, connecting to the wrong WIFI can drain your bank account in moments. In the West, big business is hit by big-money ransom demands. It’s important that the hardware firewall vendor you work with knows what challenges you will face in your enterprise, unique to your location. For example, Anonymous Malaysia’s current preoccupation with increased.

Government emphasis on security has sent many enterprises in search of a network security solution that can handle website defacement and targeted cyber-attack. Going with local partners is always a great way to start in the search for your hardware firewall. 


Managed Security Services – MSS

Many small and medium sized businesses don’t have the resources to keep a full time security team on staff. Many are choosing to use managed security services, working closely with a team of network security professionals and experts, paid to operate the technology to protect your network, and stop any attacks.


Hardware Firewall Features to Consider

When choosing a hardware firewall, it’s a big investment, and thus critical that you consider several elements before you choose.


  1. Breach prevention and advanced security with proactive threat hunting, URL filtering, sandboxing, and threat intelligence.
  2. Comprehensive network visibility for threatening activity among users, hosts, networks and devices, to trace back patient-zero, and to monitor communication between virtual machines and file transfers.
  3. Flexible management and deployment options, on-premises or in the cloud, usually with subscriptions for even advanced capabilities and a wide range of throughput speeds.
  4. Fastest time to detection, in just hours, minutes or even seconds, taking the pressure off IT for daily monitoring of the network for threats.
  5. Automation and product integrations that allow your hardware firewall to integrate with other vendors and share threat information, event data, policies, and contextual information with email, endpoint, and network security tools.

What is Next Generation Firewall (NGFW)

A next generation firewall (NGFW) is a network security firewall device that provides both the stateful inspection of a traditional firewall, with the added elements of application control, integrated intrusion prevention, and cloud-delivered machine learning, AI and threat intelligence.


A next-generation firewall, like Sangfor NGAF, is the best of both worlds, with the personalization options of software firewall, the power and protection of a hardware firewall. Lower the cost, provide better security and flexibility compared to the traditional network firewall.


3 Best Open Source Firewall in 2020

Open-source firewall is software distributed with a license that allows users to use the program source code. Open source firewall is updated by the open-source community, and thus is sometimes slow to adopt new functions. Open source firewall is a great way to start on your firewall journey. Consider one of these 5 open source firewalls.


Open Source Firewall Capabilities
PfSense Disable filtering, NAT, high availability, multi-WAN, load balancing, VPN, graphic and log monitoring, dynamic DNS, captive portal, DHCP server and relay
Untangle Firewall Lite spam blocker, phishing and virus blocker, OpenVPN, intrusion prevention, adblocker, restricted portal, web monitor
OPNsense Firewalll Forward proxy cashing, capital portal, traffic shaper, VPN, high availability, hardware failover, plugin support, DNS server and forwarder, built-in reporting and monitoring tools, DHCP server and relay, intrusion exposure and inline prevention

Best Next Generation Firewall | Sangfor NGAF

Next generation firewall, like Sangfor Next-Generation Firewall (NGAF) is the solution of choice in 2021! Sangfor NGAF can be deployed in conjunction with Sangfor Hyper converged Infrastructure (HCI) and Endpoint Secure, their endpoint detection engine, to further protect the customers network, and to launch incident response actions.  NGAF also works closely with Sangfor’s entire suite of security appliances and solutions including, Neural-X, Engine Zero, Cyber Command and Platform-X.


Frequently Asked Hardware Firewall Questions


Do I need a Hardware Firewall?

Absolutely. It’s the first line of defense against harmful network traffic. It provides more comprehensive protection than a software firewall, is easier to install and update, and works 24/7.


How does a hardware firewall work?

Normally, a hardware firewall comes as a single unit with software pre-installed. Some hardware firewalls work on general OSs like Linux, most Firewalls come with an operating system specifically designed to run the related software, reducing the risk of attack using vulnerabilities.


Is hardware firewall expensive?

Hardware firewall requires a higher initial investment than software firewall, as it requires hardware installation. While software firewall costs less to deploy, you may find that over time you will pay more for the monthly subscription fee than you would have ultimately paid for a hardware firewall.


What is the difference between software firewall and hardware firewall?

The primary difference between hardware and software firewall is that the hardware firewall runs on a physical device, while software firewall is installed on a machine. Most PCs come with built-in software firewall.


Is Hardware firewall better than software firewall?

This will depend heavily on individual business needs. Hardware firewall is more secure, protects more computers and endpoints, and runs on its own power, not affecting computer performance. Hardware firewall is also easier to update and deploy, making the initial financial investment well worth it. Software firewall is better for businesses with smaller budgets, fewer endpoints or PCs or fewer employees. With software firewall’s lower price tag comes lower inspection and protection capabilities, and complex deployment and maintenance.


How do you define and setup firewall rules to implement policies?

Setup the firewall rules may be different from case to case, but there are some basic practices:

  • Know your network and what to protect, e.g., where the firewall deployed, what the traffic/behavior you want to control.
  • Start with an implicit deny rule and never use an allow-all rule. A secure network should not be an open network, and we should only allow the traffic needed to pass through.
  • Define the objects/strategies allowed to pass through the firewall, including source IP, destination IP, direction, schedule, etc.
  • Create allow rules for each object you defined. And recommend separating policy for each object or at least each type of object. e.g., do not mix a user-side control rule with a server-side control rule in the same policy

 

Take Away

What should be the first step toward a network security-conscious future for your business? There is no solution that is 100% secure, but by layering the right security solutions on top of the right foundation, you significantly reduce your risk of losing money, data and reputation to cyber-attack. Hardware firewall provides the foundation on which we build our fortress of network security-solitude.


For more information on Sangfor’s suite of network security solutions and NGAF, visit us online, or email us directly, and let Sangfor make your IT simpler, more secure and valuable.