Top 5 best NGFW vendors of 2022
The Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) vendors every network and security professional should know about
In 2021 the world was still held hostage by COVID-19. For a while, we were allowed to go back to the office but a lot of us are working from home again. Luckily, we are now more experienced with working from home and we can still stay in touch, albeit virtually. There is still a demand for solutions that allow users to work from home, which included remote access solutions, video conferencing, and collaboration tools.
Most companies are now equipped with the resources to provide their workforce with remote access to the corporate network. The spike that we observed last year in demand for remote access solutions is over. However, we do still see a challenge in terms of security.
As explained on our SASE page, a firewall plays its part in securing an organisation; but end-to-end security requires an NGFW vendor to also provide solutions for CASB, DLP and to support ZTNA. The top 5 vendors below have been selected taking these new requirements into account.
Next-gen firewall explained
There are many types of malware that a firewall can protect against these days, including ransomware, viruses, worms, trojans, adware, and more. Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) take it a step further, by offering the ability to not only identify but also completely block malware before it enters your network. NGFWs can swiftly detect and combat attacks across the entire network. As cyber-attacks continue to become more sophisticated, next-generation firewalls will continue to be essential components of any organisation’s security solution, whether you’re in a data centre, network, or cloud.
Reviewing next-generation firewalls and their capabilities is one of the steps that need to be taken to significantly improve an organisation’s security. As cyberattacks and advanced hacking methodologies, these days not only drive enterprises to look for next-generation firewalls, they also drive next-generation firewall vendors to optimise and update their solutions. The global next-gen firewall market is expected to grow at USD ~$4.69 Billion by 2023, at ~11.4% of CAGR between 2018 and 2023. It's the largest market in IT security products and still growing around 8 percent each year.
Malicious emails, phishing schemes, and other threats concealed in content can be hard to detect. Luckily, many next-generation firewalls vendors offer the threat prevention capabilities IT Security staff is looking for. The best firewalls include application awareness, centralised management features, Deep Packet Inspection, and 100Gbps threat protection, as well as hybrid cloud security. For example, to help defend against the rise of malware, intrusion attempts bypass perimeter protection and other advanced threats.
"Next-generation capabilities have been achieved by all solutions in the enterprise network firewall market, but vendors differentiate on feature strengths and depth." - Mohamed El Haddouchi, CTO, Nomios
NGFW features to look for
As mentioned, features offered by the best NGFWs include IDS/IPS, support for single-enterprise firewalls as well as branch offices, web proxy and URL filtering, Web Application Firewalling and virtual versions that can be deployed within the cloud. This is in addition to the SASE features described at the beginning of this article.
For an NGFW comparison, it’s crucial to look for differences in:
- Third-party security product integration capabilities;
- Ease of installation and use;
- Effectiveness at blocking threats;
- Additional features such as application visibility and cloud protection;
- And of course: pricing.
“Next-generation firewalls should be on every company's shortlist.” - Mohamed El Haddouchi, CTO, Nomios
Palo Alto Networks PA-Series
Palo Alto was recognised by Gartner® for ten consecutive years as a Leader in its Magic Quadrant™ for Network Firewalls. In addition, Palo Alto is considered a Leader in the Forrester Wave in Q3 2021 for ZTNA.
Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewalls consist of physical appliances, virtualised firewalls and 5G-ready firewalls. They are all based on a consistent single-pass architecture and inspect all traffic, including all applications, threats, and content, and tie that traffic to the user, regardless of location or device type.
In 2021 Palo Alto has launched complete zero-trust network security, new PA-400 Series and PA-5450 firewalls to bring enterprise-grade security to all corners of the business. They can also secure multi-cloud businesses with their new cloud identity engine and protect organisations from the SaaS explosion with an integrated CASB. Palo Alto has brought the power of inline machine learning to their cloud-delivered security services, where they established threat coverage in DNS security, web protection from unknown threats in advanced URL filtering and real-time protection with WildFire malware analysis.
Having been recognised for the 12th time in the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Network Firewalls, FortiGates are NGFWs worth considering. Powered by a single OS, FortiGate network firewalls, whether physical, virtual or delivered from the cloud, are designed to protect any edge at any scale while providing a seamless experience for users and administrators.
The FortiGate firewall product line is available for all firewall deployment use cases. It is also available for public cloud platforms. After the acquisition of OPAQ, Fortinet released FortiSASE, with SD-WAN and FWaaS, in 2021. They also offer a stand-alone identity-based segmentation product as a result of the acquisition of ShieldX Networks.
Fortinet ensures continuous innovation, providing customers with access to cutting edge security tools they need to enable digital business success. The Fortinet next-generation firewalls are high-performance appliances adding intrusion prevention, application control, and anti-malware to the traditional firewall-VPN combination. This NGFW vendor provides one platform for end-to-end security across your network.
Cisco has been a strong player in the world of NGFW for many years and they offer multiple firewall product lines. Such as Cisco Secure Firewall (formerly Firepower), Cisco Secure Workload (formerly Tetration) and Meraki MX series.
Cisco Secure firewalls are available in many form-factors scaling from the branch site to a carrier-grade data centre. These firewalls are also available as virtual firewalls to enable security in private and/or public cloud environments. In 2021 Cisco released six Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) virtual appliances, a container firewall and Cisco Secure Managed Remote Access, a managed VPN solution. They are constantly updating and improving their NGFWs.
A cornerstone of SASE is SD-WAN. Cisco SD-WAN solution provides threat protection and visibility to guard against major web-based attacks. Delivered using cloud security with Cisco Umbrella or by the built-in capability of the router, the solution lays the foundation for a secure access service edge (SASE)-based architecture for enterprises.
The Cisco Umbrella provides secure access regardless of where the resource user is located. Whether it be in the office, at home or on the road, Cisco Umbrella provides the same security posture for all scenarios. Cisco Umbrella combines DNS-layer security with a Secure Web Gateway for client to server communications. CASB and cloud-delivered firewall (CDFW) provide security from the server side.
Juniper Networks SRX Firewall series
The Juniper Networks firewall product line is the SRX series of NGFWs, which is available as hardware appliances, virtual appliances (vSRX) and containers (cSRX). vSRX can be hosted on the customer’s own hypervisor or run on AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. The Juniper Networks SRX Series NGFWs combine high-performance security with integrated services for application security, intrusion protection and advanced threat detection for organisations of all sizes.
In 2021 the updates by Juniper included enhancements to advanced threat detection capabilities, IoT security, and partnerships for the industrial control system (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) environments.
The on-premises devices ingest and analyse data from any third-party firewall or security data source. This enables enterprises to respond to threats with one touch, detect malware and it also helps avoid vendor lock-in. With Juniper's ATP platform as an open ecosystem, it works in conjunction with any firewall and SIEM. This makes it very compatible and it can be used right away in an environment. Detection and analysis, as well as automation, also enable the ability to do one-touch mitigation. A pretty unique way of approaching advanced malware.
Juniper Networks SRX next-generation firewalls use information from Juniper’s Sky Advanced Threat Protection cloud-based service and third-party GeoIP feeds to block malicious activities as they enter or traverse the network. It also provides application visibility and control, IPS and user-based application policies, plus unified threat management (UTM) to protect and control your business assets.
In 2021 Forcepoint became a Niche Player in the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for network firewalls report. In the four years before, they were a Visionary in the quadrant.
Forcepoint’s portfolio includes nine different firewall series, with different purposes. All series include centralised management, extensive security such as VPN, IPS, encrypted inspection, SD-WAN and mission-critical application proxies. They did not start with firewall solutions back in 1993, they began as a reseller for network security products.
According to the Gartner® research, the network firewalls of Forcepoint are a good candidate for distributed office use cases where users are looking for mature SD-WAN, VPN and centralised management capabilities.
According to Forcepoint themselves, their NGFW is designed specifically to cut the complexity and time needed to get your network running smoothly and securely. And to keep it there. The Forcepoint Next-Gen Firewall is built around a unified software core that provides consistent capabilities, acceleration and centralised management across all types of deployments. Their Security Management Centre (SMC) can configure, monitor and update up to 2000 Forcepoint NGFW appliances – physical, virtual, and cloud – all from a single pane of glass.
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