The Future Of The Firewall

Posted: November 15, 2013 in Articles
Tags: , , ,

FirewallWith the rapid growth in Internet usage, equating to approximately 2.5 billion users, network threats are on the rise. Traditional firewalls and unified threat management (UTM) products can no longer withstand various malicious threats on applications and files.

So how does the technology industry intend on protecting our computers in the future?

How firewalls work

The basic definition of what a firewall does is that it forms a barrier to keep destructive forces away from your computer.

Its job is similar to a physical firewall that keeps a fire from spreading from one area to the next. It acts like a filter between your computer and the internet. You can program what you want to access and what you don’t want to get in, everything else is not allowed.

Firewalls can prevent access to certain websites and outside computers from accessing those inside a network.

In computing, a firewall is a software or hardware-based network security system that controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic by analyzing the data packets …  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Image by Luis F. Gonzalez

The changing nature of threats

Viruses that can severely damage computers are on the decline. Instead hackers are focusing increasingly on fraud, scams and other financial crimes. The computer continues to run properly but the user’s personal information is stolen.

File downloading is increasingly common to this era, where viruses and Trojan Horses are sometimes hidden in binary or compressed files. These kinds of hidden attacks are on the rise, which means threats are changing from an attack on the network layer to an attack on the application and file layer.

Firewalls are designed to tackle network layer attacks, so are falling behind today’s security requirements.

Is Unified Threat Management (UTM) the way forward?

Unified Threat Management (UTM) products are able to deal with application layer threats, but there are some technical disadvantages to this form of virus protection.

Firstly, enabling multiple security modules at a security gateway leaves the gateway’s forwarding capability compromised, resulting in a bottleneck for network forwarding. This leads to a slow computer and users are forced to disable these security modules in order to actually use their computer efficiently.

Secondly, UTM protection is limited in terms of file control in that they only detect file-layer threats for certain protocols, namely through HTTP and email. Although UTM offers application-layer protection, most applications are HTTPS, P2P, IM, online games and videos, it can do nothing about their file-layer control.

Finally, with a growing corporate dependency on ‘apps’, network administrators need to know whether they are authorised applications, and how much bandwidth they use. Even a traditional firewall can do very little to protect here. Not only do Web 2.0 applications cause issues to the user, but these apps open the door to potential source code hackers to release malware.

What we do know about the future of the firewall

The next generation of firewalls must be able to identify application traffic, withstand various new attacks to combat fraud and be able to do this with little impact on network performance. Also, there needs to be protection to support the growth of cloud computing and app use within a commercial network.

One can only hope that we will end up with  all-inclusive software, capable of meeting the growing demand for better security from new threats.

Do you think the age of the firewall has been and gone? Please write your opinions  in comments!

Author BIO: Emily Jarvis is an avid writer of technology and video game news, with a long term career in technology journalism in her sights. She recommends Hardware.

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