Cloud firewall has become a mandatory security tool for organizations of all kinds. In the age of cloud computing where data and other mission-critical assets are accessed over the cloud, the network perimeter is continuously expanding, and traditional firewalls are failing to effectively protect digital assets. Working in tandem with other security tools, cloud-based firewalls enable organizations to secure their ever-expanding network perimeter and ensure secure access to critical assets.
Let us delve into what a cloud firewall is and understand its benefits.
What is Cloud Firewall?
Cloud Firewalls are cloud-deployed, software-based security products that help prevent cyber-attacks. They form a protective shield around the cloud assets, defending them from untrusted internet traffic. Cloud assets include cloud platforms, data stored on clouds, infrastructure, and applications. Additionally, cloud-based firewalls also protect the internal/ private network and the on-premise assets. Also known as Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS), these security products can be offered by third-party vendors as a service.
How Do Cloud Firewalls Work?
Firewalls are security products that filter out malicious requests based on a set of pre-defined rules. They stand in between a trusted internal network and an untrusted network (for instance, the internet). Cloud-based firewalls serve the same purpose – to prevent authorized access to private networks and cloud assets by monitoring web traffic and filtering out malicious requests based on the defined security policies.
Standing at the network perimeter, traditional firewalls were physical appliances that connected to and protected the organization’s on-premise IT infrastructure. Over the past 10 years, the increasing adoption of cloud computing has made the clear distinction between the internal network and the larger internet almost non-existent.
Today, the network perimeter is ever-expanding with more cloud assets, mobile devices and IoT devices being added every day. Further, employees, customers and other users access digital assets and private networks on the uncontrolled internet from their own or shared devices. So, traditional firewalls are simply ineffective. Designed with this unique cloud architecture in mind, cloud firewalls are placed on the network edge and typically work with other security solutions to offer comprehensive security and access control.
FWaaS vs Next-Gen Firewall (NGFW)
Just because FWaaS are deployed on the cloud does not mean they have the cutting-edge capabilities to stop advanced, modern-day threats. The ‘cloud’ only denotes where the firewall resides and not its capabilities. All cloud-based firewalls aren’t Next-Generation Firewalls.
NGFWs include newer technologies such as Intrusion Prevention Systems, Deep Packet Inspection, Application Control, Global Threat Intelligence, and so on. NGFW could be deployed on-premise or in the cloud.
Benefits of Next-Generation Firewalls
Intrusion Prevention Systems
Intrusion Prevention Systems examine network traffic to identify and block malicious attacks. It is an inline security component that works efficiently to keep network performance from degrading.
Deep Packet Inspection
Deep Packet Inspection evaluates the content of a packet and identifies its source. It can also redirect traffic from online services or a specific IP address. DPI can also enhance the abilities of ISPs to prevent the exploitation of IoT devices in DDOS attacks by blocking malicious requests from devices.
Global Threat Intelligence
Global Threat Intelligence provides timely threat intelligence that protects organizations and users from both known as well as emerging cyber threats, regardless of their source. It also closes the threat window with timely, often predictive, and reputation-based threat intelligence, reducing the probability of attack drastically.
Application Control ensures the privacy and security of data used by and transmitted between applications. It is a security practice that blocks unauthorized applications from executing in ways that put data at risk. It consists of validity checks, identification, authentication, authorization, input controls, forensic controls, etc.
The Power-Packed Benefits of Cloud-based Firewalls
Easy Deployment and Scalability
Cloud-based firewalls are easy to deploy owing to their software-defined nature. They only take a fraction of the time taken by traditional firewalls to be deployed and cause minimal disruptions to the business. As a result, they are much easier to maintain and upgrade.
Unlike physical firewalls, they come with a potentially unlimited scale. As the bandwidth grows, the FWaaS adjusts to maintain parity. Organizations can go about their business without having to worry about traffic volume.
Timeliness is critical for heightened security. The best FWaaS come with automatic, real-time updates to protect against the latest threats.
What sets FWaaS apart is the 24×7 availability which is hard to achieve with on-premises firewalls. FWaaS comes with in-built redundancies (power, HVAC, network, etc.), backup infrastructure, support services, automatic backup strategies and failover in case of incidents, among others. So, cloud solutions are much more reliable.
Identity and Access Management
Cloud firewalls are equipped to filter traffic from multiple sources – the internet, between tenants, virtual data center, virtual network, etc. The best ones can also distinguish between bot and human traffic to prevent bot attacks. They give control over access policy and connection management. They integrate with access control providers to ensure granular control over filtering tools.
FWaaS filters out malicious requests from all kinds of traffic sources – the web, virtual data centers, between tenants and so on. They ensure fortified security of connections between the cloud and physical data centers. So, they are beneficial for organizations migrating to the cloud infrastructure.
Cloud-based firewalls are equipped with a range of tools for monitoring and managing performance, usage, visibility, configuration, logging and so on. They typically provide a comprehensive dashboard that can be accessed and managed remotely.
Conclusion: All Cloud-Based Firewalls are Not Equal! Choose Wisely!
In the age of digital transformation, cloud firewalls are a must for all kinds of organizations. By choosing the right kind of solution, organizations can protect their rapidly growing endpoints and strengthen their security posture. Next-gen, Cloud-based WAF (Web Application Firewall) such as AppTrana can be easily deployed in front of any cloud deployment, be it private, public, hybrid or multi-cloud environments. Equipped with Global Threat Intelligence, automation, AI and learning capabilities, AppTrana is effective against the fast-changing threat landscape and can protect the organization’s IT environment from the latest and most advanced variants of threats.