The changing role of the firewall in network security


The firewall is still at the center of most network security strategies, but it needs to evolve as cloud technology, software defined networks and next generation firewalls take hold.

This is among the conclusions of the latest State of the Firewall Report from network security specialist FireMon, which finds that 91 percent of IT security professionals believe firewalls are still as critical or more critical than ever to their security architecture.

Two-thirds of respondents also say that firewalls are somewhat or highly valuable to the cloud services they manage. This represents a 10 percent increase over 2015. Next generation firewalls (NGFWs) represent at least 50 percent of current firewall infrastructure in almost half of the organizations surveyed compared to 34 percent in 2015. NGFWs can add complexity to security management, but despite this only 6.7 percent of organizations say they have no NGFWs.

Software defined networking (SDN) is also seen as being a major factor, with 90 percent of respondents recognizing that it has impacted or will impact networking to some degree.

"We're seeing small shifts in IT professionals' perceptions of the firewall as new technologies enter the market", says Jody Brazil, co-founder and chief product strategy officer at FireMon. "Adoption of SDN and network virtualization in general won't decrease the need for firewalls, but it may open the door to advancements or a new category of network protection. It will be more of a continuous evolution rather than a complete upheaval as so many are quick to claim".

The report is based on a November 2015 survey of approximately 600 IT security practitioners from a range of organizations, a full copy can be downloaded from the FireMon website.

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