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.

What is Cloud Firewall?

To start, a cloud firewall is essentially the virtual version of a traditional firewall, but it’s cloud-deployed. You set up and define the rules and the cloud firewall will keep it from entering your network.

This type of security is extremely important once data is stored in the cloud. Currently, around 80% of companies have reported an increase in bots that are run by malicious actors attempting to steal sensitive company data. Having a cloud firewall in place can prevent malicious traffic from entering your website and keep your remote workforce safe.

cloud firewall

How does it work?​

Cloud firewalls work a lot like traditional on-premise firewalls. They will form a barrier against external traffic entering your network and detect any malware that might potentially wreak havoc in your network. Such threats are then blocked before they can enter your network or are isolated before they can infect the entirety of your network and its devices.

How does it detect malware? It works through active packet scanning to carefully analyze incoming packets and verify secure packets so they may be granted access. In the scenario that incoming packets match any threats then the firewall will block them from entering your network. Your cloud firewall may also scan outgoing data packets for any malicious activity.

Another important part of the security cloud firewalls provide is their stateful inspection capabilities, a type of dynamic packet filtering. Stateful inspection is a capability of firewalls to filter incoming data packets based on “state” and “context” which includes information on the source and destination IP, sequence numbers, and other types of metadata.

Cloud firewalls have a set of policies in place that will determine what packets are to be permitted to enter and which are to be blocked. You can customize these policies according to your network to provide optimal security. Incoming packets of data are cross-checked for policies that allow them to cross the barrier, if the policies between the source and destination are not provided then the packets will be blocked. To get the maximum benefits of cloud firewalls, you should implement them in conjunction with other security measures such as anti-virus software, VPN, data encryption, etc.

Why is it important?

Enterprises have shifted away from running applications from on-prem servers – instead opting to use virtual machines and containers. This has led to rapid growth in endpoints, all of which need to be protected. This constant flux of endpoint exposure has necessitated a shift away from traditional network security solutions.

cloud firewall

Types of Cloud-based Firewall Models

SaaS

These are structured to ensure security for an organization’s users, data, and network. Unlike a traditional on-premises software or hardware firewall, SaaS firewalls are deployed from an off-site location in the cloud. This type of firewall can also be referred to as Firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS), Software-as-a-service firewall (SaaS firewall), or Security-as-a-service (SECaaS).

Next-Generation

This cloud-based security services application exists on a virtual server. It is designed to be deployed within a virtual data center. It secures an organization’s servers in a Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model. Next-generation firewalls secure outgoing and incoming traffic between cloud-based applications.

Benefits of Cloud Firewall

  • Scalability: Cloud-based firewalls are designed to be easily scalable so they can easily meet an increase in demand, should it occur. Since these are software-based firewalls, they come with unlimited scalability; they will automatically adjust according to the increase in bandwidth. Comparatively, on-site firewalls are more difficult to maintain and have limited scalability.
  • Availability: Its providers account for the built-in cost of high availability by supporting infrastructure. This means guaranteeing redundant power, HVAC, and network services, and automating backup strategies in the event of a site failure. This availability is hard to match with on-premises firewall solutions because of the cost and support required. This also means that necessary updates can be implemented immediately, without the need for large system downloads or updates.
  • Real-Time Updates: Cloud-based firewalls can get automatic updates over the internet in real-time, in this way they are constantly updated on the latest cyber-attacks and can better protect your networks.
  • Migration Security: It is capable of filtering traffic from a variety of sources; the internet, between virtual networks, between tenants, or even a virtual data center. It’s capable of guaranteeing the security of connections made between physical data centers and the cloud – this is very beneficial for organizations looking for a means of migrating current solutions from an on-prem location to a cloud-based infrastructure.
  • Extensibility: An on-premise firewall is generally limited when it comes to deployment, it must be deployed at a corporate location with enough space and resources to maintain the firewall. On the other hand, cloud firewalls can be installed virtually anywhere in an organization as long as they have a protected communications path.
  • Application Control: Cloud firewalls will identify the application that created a particular traffic flow and will actively block applications from any unauthorized activity that could compromise your network or put your data at risk.
  • Performance Management: It provides tools for controlling performance, visibility, usage, configuration, and logging – all things normally associated with an on-prem solution.

Disadvantages

  • Cloud-Based Firewalls do not know who the visitor is they blindly scan the packets based on policies created in the Firewall Registry and if the attacker managed to create a fake replica of any existing policies then he can easily cheat the Firewall and bypass into the Cloud Network.
  • Cloud-based firewalls lack the understanding of how a site functions, what are software-based circumstances, who are authenticated users, and what permissions are needed.
  • As these Firewalls follow generic use cases they may fail in detecting vulnerabilities that are software specific such as Plugin Vulnerabilities.
  • The sites behind the Cloud Firewall are dependent on Firewall Service Provider, if the service is down chances are that it can create an outage in the cloud network.

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Conclusion

Cloud-based firewalls are an excellent option for anyone who needs adaptive protection. If you hire out a firewall or make your own, they can be a valuable asset as your network’s security perimeter gets larger and larger.