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Firewalls are computer security systems that protect your office/home PCs or your network from intruders, hackers & malicious code. Firewalls protect you from offensive software that may come to reside on your systems or from prying hackers. In a day and age when online security concerns are the top priority of the computer users, Firewalls provide you with the necessary safety and protection.
Firewalls are software programs or hardware devices that filter the traffic that flows into you PC or your network through a internet connection. They sift through the data flow & block that which they deem (based on how & for what you have tuned the firewall) harmful to your network or computer system.
When connected to the internet, even a standalone PC or a network of interconnected computers make easy targets for malicious software & unscrupulous hackers. A firewall can offer the security that makes you less vulnerable and also protect your data from being compromised or your computers being taken hostage.
Firewalls are setup at every connection to the Internet, therefore subjecting all data flow to careful monitoring. Firewalls can also be tuned to follow "rules". These Rules are simply security rules that can be set up by yourself or by the network administrators to allow traffic to their web servers, FTP servers, Telnet servers, thereby giving the computer owners/administrators immense control over the traffic that flows in & out of their systems or networks.
Rules will decide who can connect to the internet, what kind of connections can be made, which or what kind of files can be transmitted in out. Basically all traffic in & out can be watched and controlled thus giving the firewall installer a high level of security & protection.
A firewall is a network security system, either hardware- or software-based, that uses rules to control incoming and outgoing network traffic.
A firewall acts as a barrier between a trusted network and and an untrusted network. A firewall controls access to the resources of a network through a positive control model. This means that the only traffic allowed onto the network is defined in the firewall policy; all other traffic is denied.
A firewall is a network security system designed to prevent unauthorized to or from a private . Firewalls can be implemented in both and , or a combination of both. Network firewalls are frequently used to prevent unauthorized users from accessing private networks connected to the Internet, especially . All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall, which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the specified criteria.
The earliest firewalls functioned as packet filters, inspecting the packets that are transferred between computers on the Internet. When a packet passes through a packet-filter firewall, its source and destination address, protocol, and destination port number are checked against the firewall's rule set. Any packets that aren't specifically allowed onto the network are dropped (i.e., not forwarded to their destination). For example, if a firewall is configured with a rule to block Telnet access, then the firewall will drop packets destined for TCP port number 23, the port where a Telnet server application would be listening.
Packet-filter firewalls work mainly on the first three layers of the OSI reference model (physical, data-link and network), although the transport layer is used to obtain the source and destination port numbers. While generally fast and efficient, they have no ability to tell whether a packet is part of an existing stream of traffic. Because they treat each packet in isolation, this makes them vulnerable to spoofing attacks and also limits their ability to make more complex decisions based on what stage communications between hosts are at.
Firewalls in the perimeterless age
In order to recognize a packet's connection state, a firewall needs to record all connections passing through it to ensure it has enough information to assess whether a packet is the start of a new connection, a part of an existing connection, or not part of any connection. This is what's called "stateful packet inspection." Stateful inspection was first introduced in 1994 by Check Point Software in its FireWall-1 software firewall, and by the late 1990s, it was a common firewall product feature.
This additional information can be used to grant or reject access based on the packet's history in the state table, and to speed up packet processing; that way, packets that are part of an existing connection based on the firewall's state table can be allowed through without further analysis. If a packet does not match an existing connection, it's evaluated according to the rule set for new connections.
As attacks against Web servers became more common, so too did the need for a firewall that could protect servers and the applications running on them, not merely the network resources behind them. Application-layer firewall technology first emerged in 1999, enabling firewalls to inspect and filter packets on any OSI layer up to the application layer.
The key benefit of application-layer filtering is the ability to block specific content, such as known malware or certain websites, and recognize when certain applications and protocols -- such as HTTP, FTP and DNS -- are being misused.
Firewall technology is now incorporated into a variety of devices; many routers that pass data between networks contain firewall components and most home computer operating systems include software-based firewalls. Many hardware-based firewalls also provide additional functionality like basic routing to the internal network they protect.
The role of a firewall is to prevent malicious traffic reaching the resources that it is protecting. Some security experts feel this is an outdated approach to keeping information and the resources it resides on safe. They argue that while firewalls still have a role to play, modern networks have so many entry points and different types of users that stronger access control and security at the host is a better technological approach to network security.
Virtualization strategies such as virtual desktop infrastructure can dynamically respond to different scenarios by offering tailored access control to applications, files, Web content and email attachments based on the user's role, location, device and connection. This approach to security does provide additional protection that a firewall can't, but information security requires defense-in-depth, and firewalls still offer essential low-level protection as well as important logging and auditing functions.
Firewalls use 3 types of filtering mechanisms:
Firewalls rules can be customized as per your needs, requirements & security threat levels. You can create or disable firewall filter rules based on such conditions as:
Types of Firewall
Firewalls are a must have for any kind of computer usage that go online. They protect you from all kinds of abuse & unauthorised access like trojans that allow taking control of your computers by remote logins or backdoors, virus or use your resources to launch DOS attacks.
Firewalls are worth installing. Be it a basic standalone system, a home network or a office network, all face varying levels of risks & Firewalls do a good job in mitigating these risks. Tune the firewall for your requirements & security levels and you have one reason less to worry.
Firewalls can be either hardware or software but the ideal configuration will consist of both. In addition to limiting access to your computer and network, a firewall is also useful for allowing remote access to a private network through secure authentication certificates and logins.
Hardware firewalls can
be purchased as a stand-alone product but are also typically found in broadband
routers, and should be considered an important part of your system and network
set-up. Most hardware firewalls will have a minimum of four network ports to
connect other computers, but for larger networks, business networking firewall
solutions are available.
Firewalls are used to protect both home and corporate networks. A typical firewall program or hardware device filters all information coming through the Internet to your network or computer system. There are several types of firewall techniques that will prevent potentially harmful information from getting through:
� Packet Filter: Looks at each entering or leaving the network and accepts or rejects it based on user-defined rules. Packet filtering is fairly effective and transparent to users, but it is difficult to configure. In addition, it is susceptible to .
A newer class of firewalls, , filters network and Internet traffic based upon the applications or traffic types using specific ports. Next Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) blend the features of a standard firewall with quality of service (QoS) functionalities in order to provide smarter and deeper inspection.
A class of designed to filter and traffic based upon the applications or traffic types using specific ports. The application-specific granular security policies provided by Next Generation Firewalls help them detect application-specific attacks, giving them the potential to catch more malicious activity than more traditional firewalls.
Next Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) blend the features of a standard firewall with functionalities in order to provide smarter and deeper inspection. In many ways a Next Generation Firewall combines the capabilities of first-generation network firewalls and network (IPS), while also offering additional features such as and inspection, reputation-based filtering and integration support.
The traditional stateful firewall filters traffic based upon ports and protocols. For example, blocking or allowing the entire port 80 for HTTP traffic or port 443 for HTTPS traffic. It’s an "all-or-nothing" approach.
Newer firewall technology can also filter traffic based upon the applications or traffic types traversing these ports. For example, you could open port 80 for only select HTTP traffic, for those specific applications, sites, or services you allow. Think of it as blending the firewall and quality of service (QoS) functionalities into one solution.
These application-aware firewalls are commonly cited as a next-generation firewall (NGFW) but they are, basically, a form of a unified threat management (UTM) solution. However, the term UTM is usually applied to products that lack the true application-awareness and are targeted towards the SMB market. UTM products usually offer additional functions over traditional firewalls, such as antivirus, antispam, or even intrusion prevention systems (IPS).
The fine-tuning of traffic provided by NGFWs can help in both security and bandwidth control aspects. Since they’re smarter and provide deeper inspection, they have the potential to catch more malicious activity. They can also serve as content filters and provide QoS functions, so higher priority applications receive higher priority bandwidth. Along with the general need for better overall security, NGFWs are in demand due to the increase of cloud services and outsourced software as a service (SaaS) providers.
Here are the common features of most NGFWs:
Standard firewall features: They include the traditional (first-generation) firewall functionalities such as stateful port/protocol inspection, network address translation (NAT), and VPN.
Application identification and filtering: This is the chief characteristic of NGFWs. They can identify and filter traffic based upon the specific applications, rather than just opening ports for any and all traffic. This prevents malicious applications and activity from using non-standard ports to evade the firewall.
SSL and SSH inspection: NGFWs can even inspect SSL and SSH encrypted traffic. They can decrypt traffic, make sure it’s an allowed application and check other policies, and then re-encrypt it. This provides additional protection from malicious applications and activity that try to hide using encryption to avoid the firewall.
Intrusion prevention: Being more intelligent and with deeper traffic inspection, they may also be able to perform intrusion detection and prevention. Some next-gen firewalls might include enough IPS functionality that a stand-alone IPS might not be needed.
Directory integration: Most NGFWs include directory support (i.e., Active Directory). For instance, to manage authorized applications based upon users and user groups.
Malware filtering: NGFWs can also provide reputation-based filtering to block applications that have a bad reputation. This can possibly check phishing, virus, and other malware sites and applications
Palo Alto Networks: This is one of the first vendors to release an application-aware firewall. Their proprietary technologies include App-ID, User-ID, and Content-ID: App-ID classifies known and unknown applications traversing any port and protocol via clear-text or encrypted SSL or SSH connections; User-ID adds support of user and group policies via most all enterprise directories on the market in conjunction with the network-based User-ID agent; and Content-ID provides the real-time content inspection and filtering, URL filtering, and IPS functionality.
Barracuda Networks: Their Barracuda NG Firewall series combines NGFW and VPN technologies. It features application controls, intrusion prevention, Web filtering, antivirus, antispam, and network access control.
Juniper Networks: Their AppSecure software suite adds NGFW capabilities to their SRX Services Gateway. The application-awareness is provided by the AppTrack component. The AppFirewall and AppQoS components provide the traffic control and policy enforcement. Then the AppDoS and IPS components provide protection against attacks and malicious activity.
WatchGuard: They offer solutions for both the enterprise and medium-sized business environments. In addition to application control and IPS, they feature VPN, URL filtering, antispam, and antivirus functionality.
NGFWs provide a thorough job of inspecting and filtering network traffic. They let you fine-tune exactly what type of content you want to allow or block, apply per-user policies regarding content, and provide intrusion prevention and reputation-based functions to stop attacks and malicious activity.
Though the technologies and products are still young, enterprises and businesses should begin the process of migrating to NGFWs.
Recent security breaches to some of the largest and seemingly most secure network environments beg the question: Are existing protection mechanisms sufficient enough to deter unauthorized access to critical assets?
While some feel that traditional firewalls, antivirus software and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) have lost their usefulness, these security technologies are, in reality, still very much in use -- and needed. However, more robust, effective and, especially, integrated products are often required to keep up with those that threaten today's network infrastructures.
Enter next-generation firewalls (NGFWs).
NGFWs are integrated network security platforms that consist of in-line deep packet inspection (DPI) firewalls, IPS, application inspection and control, SSL/SSH inspection, website filtering and quality of service (QoS)/bandwidth management to protect networks against the latest in sophisticated network attacks and intrusion.
Unlike NGFWs, traditional packet-filtering firewalls only provide protection at Layer 3 (network) and Layer 4 (transport) of the OSI model. They include metrics to allow and deny packets by discriminating the source IP address of incoming packets, destination IP addresses, the type of Internet protocols the packet may contain -- e.g., normal data carrying IP packets, ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol), ARP (Address Resolution Protocol), RARP (Reverse Address Resolution Protocol), BOOTP (Bootstrap Protocol) and DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) -- and routing features.
Although firewalls are placed between the Internet and an internal network inside the DMZ, attackers have found ways to circumvent these controls and cause considerable damage before detection. Meanwhile, traditional firewalls often necessitate having to install separate IPS, Web application firewalls (WAFs), secure coding standards based on the Open Web Application Security Project's (OWASP) Top 10 vulnerabilities, strong encryption at the Web layer (SSL/TLS), and antivirus and malware prevention.
Having to deploy, manage and monitor this unwieldy number of network security products to mitigate multiple heterogeneous attack vectors is challenging, to say the least. In addition, this diverse array of security products can compromise each other's functionality at the expense of broadband resource usage, response times, monitoring and maintenance requirements.
NGFWs address these issues by providing a single-vendor product with a common management process that includes multiple security services. It is, for the most part, a more cost-effective and pragmatic approach to network security.
Optimal NGFW products must have three characteristics: be comprehensive, flexible and easy to use. Yes, this sounds oxymoronic, but achieving this trifecta is very doable for NGFW vendors.
First, NGFWs must be comprehensive, so that they include IPS, antivirus/malware prevention, application control, deep packet inspection and stateful firewalls (the former inspects incoming packets, the latter, outgoing), encryption, compression, QoS, and other capabilities. One drawback NGFWs need to overcome is the reluctance many enterprises have of relying on a single point of failure for network security.
Second, NFGWs must be flexible, which also means scalable, so that features can be modularized and activated based on need.
Andthird, NFGWs must be easy to use, with a fairly intuitive management interface that provides a clean and easy-to-read dashboard, feature activations, rule set definitions, configuration analysis, vulnerability assessments, activity reports and alerts.
Today's NGFWs make up a cadre of network security products that purport to offer these three characteristics. Although NGFW services are listed with commonly named features (e.g., DLP, application control and threat intelligence), a close look shows some variation between NGFW vendor products. For example, those NGFWs that offer mobile device security will admit this is not a mobile device management (MDM) product. They can identify mobile devices and operating systems, provide policy enforcement based on apps, users and content, and even extend a VPN tunnel to prevent malware, but they do not provide total device management as offered by MDM products.
Meanwhile, some NGFW features are more robust and advanced than others. So it is incumbent upon customers to carefully vet the features of individual NGFW products to determine the best fit for them. For example, not all NGFWs provide two-factor authentication or mobile device security, but then, not every customer needs those features. And while there are those NGFWs that say they support such features, some might require additional modules or products to make them work.
Unified threat management (UTM) is an approach to security management that allows an administrator to monitor and manage a wide variety of security-related applications and infrastructure components through a single management console.
UTMs, which are typically purchased as cloud services or network appliances, provide firewall, intrusion detection, antimalware, spam and content filtering and capabilities in one integrated package that can be installed and updated easily. UTMs for enterprise customers may also include more advanced features such as identity-based access control, load balancing, quality of service (QoS), intrusion prevention, SSL and SSH inspection and application awareness.
The principal advantage of a UTM product is its ability to reduce complexity. The principal disadvantage is that a UTM appliance can become a single point of failure (SPOF).