Jim MacLeod

It’s no secret that the online world is advancing at a record-breaking pace. And while the progress being made allows human beings to work more efficiently, connect with one another more conveniently, and accomplish tasks that were impossible just a few years ago (taking the first photo of a black hole, for example), these technological strides also contribute to an upsurge in cybercrime.

In fact, according to a study by Global Market Insights, the value of the cybersecurity market is anticipated to reach $300 billion by 2024.

Another global study by Accenture showed that security breaches increased by 11 percent in 2018

Figures like these conclusively prove that cybersecurity has never been more necessary than it is today. Especially when you consider that 73 percent of businesses are not ready to respond to a cyber attack.

Firewall security is a major factor when it comes to preventing malware attacks and other computer-related crimes.

In this post, we’ll be discussing the various types of security firewalls, and how businesses can use them to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime in 2019.

If you’re new to the world of data and web security, you may be wondering “What is firewall protection?”. So let’s answer this question first before diving into the separate methods that are available.

What is firewall security?

Firewall security refers to a network security system that blocks malicious traffic from accessing your computer network. It accomplishes this by using a predetermined set of security rules (which are established by network owner) to filter traffic. These security firewalls can be hardware-based or software-based and can be used on both personal or business networks.

What are the different types of firewall protection?

There are several kinds of network firewall security programs, each with a unique purpose and method of protecting your computer systems.

Some of the most widely-used security firewall features include:

1. Packet Filtering

Packet filtering firewalls analyze packets (units of data) as they enter or leave a computer network. Depending on the packet’s IP addresses and the transport ports to indicate the protocol, a packet filtering firewall will either grant the packet access or deny it entry. 

While this form of security firewall is a great first step to any security system, it isn’t ideal on its own. This is because packet filtering firewalls don’t have the capability to automatically open temporary “pinhole” connections used in many protocols, so they must be configured to allow all possible pinholes. That means that a lot of traffic will be allowed that normally should be blocked.

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For this reason, it’s recommended that network owners not rely on packet filtering firewalls alone.

2. Stateful Firewalls

A stateful firewall is an improvement on a packet filtering firewall in that it analyzes packet data to determine the authenticity and security of the information that is being received or sent out from a computer network. It differs, however, in the sense that it can also store details about previous packets that have entered or left the network. This makes it a more reliable form of firewall security, since it can adapt its security policy to allow new connections from previously trusted locations, and log more information that can be used to identify potential threats.  However, a purely stateful firewall does not perform any security checks on the payload for those connections, making it possible for malware to bypass the firewall.

3. Deep Packet Inspection 

This type of firewall network security is even more advanced than the options listed above. Unlike stateful firewalls or packet filtering firewalls that only examine a packet’s header information (which is akin to only reading the cover of a book), deep packet inspection firewalls examine all of a packet’s content and can be programmed by a network manager or IT professional to look for specific traits, like IPS attack signatures. It can also be programmed to reroute these packets to predetermined destinations for further examination.

4. Application-Aware 

These security firewalls enable a network manager or IT profession to set rules based on applications, like allowing access to Office 365 but not Xbox. This network firewall security comes from deep packet inspection to identify the application for each connection. Since the Internet is large and geographically diverse, applications are often hosted in multiple different locations, and can even use different transport ports, so it’s difficult to apply policy to web apps using other types of firewall rule bases. Application-aware firewalls greatly simplify the task of providing security for a network of users.

5. Application Proxy 

Application Proxy Firewalls differ from other types of security firewalls because they act as a gatekeeper, preventing information packets from crossing the firewall entirely. Instead, these packets are sent to the proxy, a completely separate “sorting facility”. This is important since many apps are created by software developers who may or may not have an in-depth knowledge of security best practices. Thus, an application or tool you are using may be hackable, or vulnerable to threats. Since you can not completely rely on the developer to create an impenetrable app, having your own specialized firewall protection in place is always a wise decision.

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6. United Threat Management 

A united threat management firewall (aka UTM) is a security system that combines multiple services and features, forming a conglomerate of mechanisms that can be used to protect your network. 

These mechanisms include:

  • IPS/IDS (Intrusion Prevention/Detection System)
  • DOS and DDOS (Denial of Service and Distributed Denial of Service)
  • Application Proxy Filtering 
  • Spam filtering
  • Anti-Phishing
  • Anti-virus
  • Anti-spyware
  • URL filtering
  • Rootkit protection
  • Zero Day Protection
  • DLP (Data Leakage Prevention)

United threat management systems are extremely cost-effective, as they eliminate the need for multiple programs, and thus the need for more manpower to manage them.

They also streamline the firewall security process, allowing all data to be sorted through one operating system, and make it possible to respond to potential threats more quickly.

7. Next-Generation Firewalls

While all of the other methods of firewall security we’ve included are unquestionably valuable, they only operate on the Transport Layer and Network Layer of the OSI model. What does this mean in layman’s terms? Fundamentally, it means that certain functions of your telecommunication or computing system aren’t protected by the other firewalls network security options we’ve covered.

Next-generation firewalls address this issue by combining application awareness with sophisticated intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion protection systems (IPS). These systems use more comprehensive analytics that looks for traffic behavioral patterns, threat signatures and anomalous activity— factors that other security firewalls miss.

Another benefit is that next-generation firewalls continuously update their malware and antivirus protection, and the process is completed automatically, providing network owners with peace of mind.

Now that you have an overall understanding of the most common forms of firewall protection, you can combat cybercrime successfully in 2019 and beyond.

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