As the digital landscape evolves, organizations are fast moving their infrastructure and applications to the cloud. While this gives businesses flexibility and scalability, an enhanced digital footprint also increases the chances of cyber incidents. One of the most essential tools to prevent these attacks is a firewall. It’s a basic security tool and is used to protect networks, servers, and personal devices by monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic. Firewalls act as a barrier between the private network and the public internet, allowing only authorized traffic to pass through while blocking malicious traffic. They can be hardware or software based. Firewalls use a set of rules to decide what traffic is allowed and what traffic is blocked. These rules are based on criteria such as IP address, port number, and protocol type.
As we said earlier, with businesses migrating their infrastructure to the cloud, the need to ensure that they are immunized against the latest cyber threats is a mandate. Cloud firewalls are an essential preventive measure against network security breaches. They help protect the cloud environment by filtering traffic, preventing unauthorized access and blocking malicious traffic. Cloud firewalls can be deployed in many ways, including as a software solution or as a cloud-native service. These firewalls work by examining incoming and outgoing traffic and comparing it with a set of rules to determine if it is allowed.
Cloud firewalls offer several advantages over traditional firewalls. They can be easily scaled up or down to meet business needs. In addition, they can be integrated with other cloud-based solutions, providing a comprehensive approach to security. In this blog, we will really explore the seven types of traditional firewalls and discuss the two kinds of cloud firewalls in some depth.
The Different types of Firewalls
- There are different types of firewalls available, including packet filtering firewalls, which block network traffic based on IP addresses and port numbers to protect small networks. They filter messages at the level of the application layers and provide basic network security protection.
- Application-level gateways, also known as proxy firewalls, protect network security by filtering messages at the application layer. They act as a gateway to the internal network and foreign servers on the web, using deep packet inspection technology to scan incoming traffic, making them more secure.
- Stateful Multi-layer Inspection (SMLI) firewall combines industry-standard firewall functionality to monitor established connections, filtering traffic based on state, port, and protocol with rules and contexts set by rules and contexts. These firewalls also control internal traffic through multi-layer monitoring.
- The UTM (Unified Threat Management) firewall combines the functions of an SMLI firewall with antivirus and intrusion prevention software. UTM includes a set of services, including cloud management.
- Next-generation firewalls provide a higher level of security by inspecting packet headers (content and source) and are more sophisticated than packet filtering. They block more advanced security threats like advanced malware.
- Threat-based NGFW focuses on the same threat as a next-generation firewall, with the added ability to provide remediation and threat detection. They provide faster solutions and use advanced automation systems, making them reliable and fast.
- The Network Address Translation (NAT) firewall evaluates Internet traffic and blocks unwanted communications, accepting incoming Web traffic only if a device on the private network requests it.
- Circuit-level gateways are pre-installed firewalls that check transaction information without verifying actual data. However, these firewalls are considered dangerous because they only check that TCP/IP data with no verification.
Cloud Firewalls: A Primer
Cloud firewalls are generally stand-alone products or services designed to protect a corporate network and its users, just like an on-premises firewall appliance, except that it resides in the cloud. Service providers call it Security as a Service (SECaaS) or Firewall as a Service (FWaaS).
In contrast, virtual firewalls are cloud-based firewalls designed to run on the cloud in a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model. In these cases, the firewall protects the traffic to, from, and between applications in the cloud. There are two interesting models when it comes to cloud-based firewalls – firewall-as-a-service and virtual firewalls. In the next section, we briefly touch upon how both of these firewalls work, their advantages and nuances.
Firewall as a Service
The classic cloud firewall works just like your traditional on-premises firewall appliance, except it's a service provided by a dedicated FWaaS provider. You can pay a flat fee or a monthly bill based on a number of factors, such as total bandwidth used and optional services such as domain filtering in addition to malware monitoring. Setting up FWaaS is pretty straightforward. System administrators have a control panel or management console that shows activity and can let them choose options for filtering, domains to allow or deny permissions, and more.
Advantages of FWaaS
An FWaaS can extend protection to remote employees as these users will connect to the cloud firewall service provider through a virtual private network (VPN) or secure tunnel. They can access services with enterprise-grade firewall protection.
Since most service providers have full-time security teams that subscribe to all threat intelligence services and respond 24/7. When there are new threats or zero-day patches, the FWaaS provider can make that change immediately. Additionally, Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks will be blocked by bandwidth-rich FWaaS servers and will not affect your network.
Managed Firewall Services with Virtual Firewalls
The virtual cloud firewall that protects your cloud infrastructure and services is an entirely different paradigm from FWaaS which is designed to protect the perimeter of your network.
Typically, in the IaaS-PaaS world, you lease infrastructure from a service provider such as AWS or GCP to create, provision and manage your own virtual servers or machine instances. These servers may be used for hosting off-the-shelf or in-house applications. It is important that these virtual servers are fully managed by a managed firewall security provider with the requisite expertise. Virtual firewalls essentially protect your cloud servers from malicious traffic or external attacks. They protect your cloud servers in the event of an external or internal security breach.
Managing Firewall Configurability with Micro-segmentation
With these types of firewalls, you have a numerous number of options for how they are configured and what they protect. You can create a firewall that only protects a specific group of virtual servers or a single server. Unlike rack-mounted firewall appliances, you can change the firewall configuration in seconds with a single click. Firewalls can also be micro-segmented with rules tied to specific applications or user roles. The advantage of the micro-segmentation approach is that it allows you to associate security policies with individual virtual machines.
Get started with the Cloud4C Next-Generation Firewall
Today’s increasingly complex cyber threat landscape calls for more robust threat awareness and evolved firewalls, equipped to thwart sophisticated vulnerabilities like APTs (advanced persistent threats). Cloud4C’s AI-powered, scalable Next-Generation Firewall is the ideal solution for enterprise network security to stay resilient in today’s risk landscape. Our NGFW combines visibility, simplicity, control and protection into one single package. The NGFW is designed to protect, converge and scale security to the enterprise. Combined with the power of AI and automation, the NGFW is built to deliver the most effective network protection in the industry.
An enterprise must also have the required skill and knowledge to manage and monitor the tools to ensure maximum network security. Cloud4C is a trusted and holistic partner. Talk to us today!