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Firewall Deep Dive: How Castra Uses Next-Generation Firewall Technology

Great firewall performance depends on matching the right vendor to each use case. 

We’ve already covered the basics of firewall technology and explained the three types of firewalls available on the market. Protocol-aware proxy firewalls give security teams the ability to cache, filter, log, and control traffic while remaining independent of the network they’re protecting. 

But that doesn’t mean there is a single firewall solution that is categorically “the best” across every use case scenario and organization. There are many ways to deploy and configure firewalls and several high-quality vendors to choose from. 

Your optimal firewall configuration depends on your organization’s network flows, resource availability, and company-specific factors like remote working. The best configuration for your organization may not be the simplest one. Security leaders need to take these factors into account before deploying firewall solutions. 

Find the Right Firewall Vendor for Your Use Case 

Some firewall vendors offer features that provide considerable value for unique use cases. Others have an excellent reputation for a wide range of scenarios, but don’t excel in any one area. Additionally, every vendor has its own position in the market in terms of value for price – and security leaders need to take all these factors into consideration. 

Here are some of the major vendors that many of our customers work with, and some useful information about their relative strengths and weaknesses: 

  • Cisco Secure Firewall 

Cisco is one of the cybersecurity industry’s original market leaders and has been pivotal to the sector’s development for more than four decades. Cisco Secure Firewall is the latest iteration of the company’s reliable series of firewall products, ideally positioned for mid-sized organizations.  

Cisco Firepower can automatically discover the environment and suggest appropriate intrusion prevention rules on its own. This gives the security team a considerable edge in updating and maintaining rule sets without having to painstakingly review tens of thousands of individual rules. 

  • Azure Firewall 

Microsoft Azure Firewall is popular among large enterprises which value its capabilities as a cloud-native, user-friendly firewall solution. It’s a managed network security service designed to protect Azure Virtual Network resources using a fully stateful firewall technology with high availability and practically unlimited scalability. 

Much of Azure Firewall’s appeal comes from the fact that its availability and scalability benefits are built into the framework of the solution itself. There is no need for load balancers or manual scaling – Azure Firewall takes care of both these factors on its own.  

  • Barracuda CloudGen Firewall 

Barracuda has repositioned its firewall product from perimeter security to distributed network optimization, giving its CloudGen Firewall platform the ability to scale across unlimited locations and applications, both on-premises and in the cloud. 

Barracuda CloudGen Firewall comes with a streamlined pricing structure that compares favorably to many other market-leading alternatives. The vendor’s offerings include solutions scaled to the needs of small and mid-sized businesses with less complex IT architecture. 

  • Palo Alto Networks PA-Series 

Palo Alto Networks provides flexible firewall solutions to small, mid-sized, and large enterprises. They are designed for busy organizations where small teams need to efficiently manage large deployments with automated workflows. Palo Alto Networks also offers a virtualized version of its firewall solutions for cloud deployment environments as well. 

While Palo Alto Networks’ PA-Series firewall solutions are designed for easy management, they don’t provide user-friendly auditing and reporting capabilities. To gain access to timely, accurate data on firewall performance, you’ll have to deploy a separate solution called Panorama. This provides global visibility and centralized control to your firewall deployment but adds significantly to the total cost of ownership. 

  • Fortinet FortiGate 

FortiGate is a next-generation firewall favored by mid-sized organizations that want well-designed hardware that can handle complex custom configurations. Fortinet’s products provide granular control access to organizations, allowing security teams to fine-tune their rules in response to security risks as they emerge. FortiGate also comes in a virtualized format for cloud deployment. 

Given the great degree of freedom that FortiGate offers, establishing an optimal configuration can be challenging. Core functions like intrusion prevention and application control are stable and easy to configure, but implementing advanced features may require additional product expertise. 

Plan Ahead for Configuration Changes and Company Growth 

Organizations aren’t static entities. They grow and change over time. As they grow and change, their security situation changes as well. Your firewall configuration may have to adapt to these changes, which isn’t an easy task without access to additional on-demand resources. 

Castra combines deep expertise with scalable security operations services that allow organizations to be proactive about security risks. With our help, you collect and analyze firewall log data in a centralized security information and event management (SIEM) platform that enhances the value of best-in-class firewall protection. 

Rely on expert insight to identify the right firewall vendor and configuration for your organization. Talk to a specialist to find out how Castra can help you optimize your firewall deployment and use the data they collect to enhance your security posture.