Business firewalls are an essential part of any company’s data security measures. Since they provide the protections needed to keep the company and its clients’ data safe, no business can operate well without one. But cyberattacks become more sophisticated over time – which means defenses like firewalls should change in response to them.
Do you need a next-generation firewall (NGFW)? If you’re a large business that handles sensitive data, you absolutely should. Small-to-medium enterprises (or SMEs) can consider more practical alternatives, like unified threat management, but they should still aim for future integration of NGFW systems.
Next Generation vs. Traditional Firewall Systems
Traditional firewalls already provide adequate protection, but next-generation firewalls have some key advantages that help them secure data better:
|Traditional Firewalls||Next-Generation Firewalls|
|Uses a general filter for applications and incoming packets, which can protect against basic threats.||Uses detailed filters that can examine incoming packets from each application individually, which protects against more specialized attacks.|
|Examines all traffic coming in and out of a network.||Examines all traffic coming in and out of a network with additional options like checking the identity of the users, scanning all files regardless of size, and controlling the kind of data a user can send or receive.|
|Intrusion Protection Systems can be linked from a separate device.||Intrusion Protection Systems are always integrated for better real-time reporting on all information going through the network.|
|Provides basic reports, which have general information about key vulnerabilities in the system. Some providers may also include near real-time threat monitoring.||Personalized reports that can be adjusted based on user permissions, with options to change the format of the report for easier comprehension. Always includes near real-time threat reporting.|
Traditional firewalls examine incoming and outgoing data packets from your network and compare them against a list of known threats within its database. Any direct attacks and suspicious data are flagged, contained, or not allowed to enter the network. You can consider it as a basic model for network security in the sense that an umbrella protects against the rain.
Next-generation firewalls are a considerable improvement on the data monitoring capabilities of the traditional model because they can examine specific parts of data, compartmentalizing them based on their source and destination. Aside from detecting any potential attacks, these firewalls can pinpoint where they came from, what they’re trying to access, and who in your network would have triggered the attack. If traditional firewalls are an umbrella, NGFWs also give you a raincoat and boots.
Simply put, next-generation firewalls are better than traditional firewalls in a lot of areas, especially if data security and monitoring are crucial areas of interest for your company.
Why Transition To Next Generation Firewalls?
Aside from being an overall improvement for a company’s security systems, next-generation firewalls can help protect their interests in these ways:
- Data management
Aside from data security, NGFWs can also help with managing the data collected from implementing security measures on your network. One of the most significant assets of using an NGFW is the detailed reporting system and analysis that it provides. Not only does it give a detailed overview of any threats (actual and potential) to your data, but it can also give you ideas on how to further improve your security.
Awareness is one of the best benefits a company can get from implementing a next-generation firewall. IT teams can develop real-time countermeasures if they catch an ongoing attack, and redundancies in case that they fail. More awareness also means more information – and that always helps to defend your data.
- Customer confidence
For companies that keep a lot of data on their clients, an NGFW can be an excellent way to show their commitment to keeping their customer’s data safe. This builds customer confidence and trust in the brand which can help companies engage and keep a loyal audience long-term.
Customer confidence translates into many benefits for a business. Your customers are more likely to recommend your product or services to their friends or trust you with more data that you can use to improve your business.
- Reputation management
For companies that deal with B2B products and services, next-generation firewalls can improve their reputation among other businesses in the same niche or industry. This allows them opportunities to stand out from their competitors and allow them to maintain a standard that they can guarantee to any potential clients.
Reputation management is also crucial if a company is looking to expand or merge with another entity. Since the data that they need to protect will effectively double, the increased capacity of an NGFW can help secure their intellectual properties.
Next-generation firewalls are the future of network and data security for many brands and businesses, partly because of the enormous quantities of data they gather. A good rule of thumb is the more data that you have, the more crucial it is to invest in advanced protections like NGFWs.
When To Look For Alternatives
While next-generation firewalls are an excellent addition to any company’s data security measures, not all companies will have them soon. There are two significant barriers that a company may face when trying to implement next-generation firewalls:
- Company funding
While the overall benefits of an NGFW are many and can ultimately save money in the long run compared to traditional firewalls, the fact remains that there can be a huge upfront cost associated with the acquisition and installation of such a system.
Companies are not always guaranteed to have the funding necessary to implement a next-generation firewall, especially if they aren’t big enough to justify the expense. Typically, NGFWs are best suited for large enterprises that handle sensitive data and are prone to frequent cyberattacks like banking organizations.
Small-to-medium enterprises may not have the requisite funds or even handle data that needs to be protected closely. In these cases, a robust traditional firewall may be enough for data and network security, with other options like Unified Threat Management systems as an alternative.
However, these enterprises should keep in mind that their security measures should be a lot more active than NGFW companies, since there’s no guarantee that their organization’s data won’t be compromised. Effectively, companies that don’t have the money for next-generation firewalls can help offset the difference in security by ramping up existing security measures.
- Lack of expertise to configure the system properly
The other limiting factor when implementing a next-generation firewall is that a company may not have the IT personnel or skill set required to get the most value out of using it. While some functions of an NGFW can more or less function and be maintained in the same way as a traditional firewall, the initial deployment and configuration of the system can take a significant amount of time and effort.
Not only does this lower the active benefits that a company will get from using an NGFW, but it also leaves their systems more open to user error. Improperly configured firewalls can easily let in any kind of attack, and human error can actively encourage attack vectors if the person in charge doesn’t understand the significance of the system or how it works.
Essentially, an NGFW works best when there is an experienced team of people that can configure and maintain it for maximum protection. Companies that lack this personnel can either outsource operations or make do with their existing protections.
Even if your company forgoes upgrading to a next-generation firewall, it should always be a goal that you want to reach in the future. IT conforms to the best practices of data security in any industry and is an essential piece of tech that can give more confidence in your data and how you handle it.
Secure Your Business Online With Abacus Managed IT Services
Next-generation firewalls are an absolute must-have for companies handling sensitive information, though many things still make it inaccessible to the wider market. However, it is an ideal security standard to reach. Aside from being an effective deterrent against cyberattacks, they also offer a variety of features that can improve your overall network security.
Abacus Managed IT Services can provide your organization with a personalized data defense strategy that can safeguard your servers against internal and external threats. For more information about our services, contact us today.