Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: Cloud Security, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, @CloudExpo

Cloud Security: Article

Why Your NGFW Needs Granular and Contextual Access Control

understand how these evolving feature sets can help contain costs while reducing management complexity

Global information technology networks that are rich in services are typically complex and require hard-to-manage security solutions. The latest versions of next-generation firewalls now offer multiple security layers that can complicate management, particularly as more and more features are added. This complexity can also serve to reduce the effectiveness of controls by obscuring noteworthy events or failing to recognize trends detected by multiple security systems integrated into the overall system. The answer is a common, unified management approach with granular and contextual access control.

Instead of employing multiple and distinct dashboards offering minimal if any integration to manage network security, administrators should be able to access a single dashboard to gain a consistent, unified view across all firewall protected segments. The data must be granular and contextual, empowering IT and network security administrators to execute and control all NGFW operations from a single perspective. And to assure logging of all actions taken and events observed, without regard to operator location.

Consistency is key. This level of administrative awareness and control should be available regardless of modality (physical or virtual) or configuration. Here are five critical control features to look for when evaluating a next generation firewall.

1. Integrated VPN
Secure virtual private network (VPN) connections provide for inter-office and mobile user connectivity to corporate resources. First-tier NGFWs typically provide high-performance remote access with integrated management supporting the use of multiple ISPs to ensure access in the event of link failure. Such solutions typically offer VPN client software to take full advantage of various deployment options. Look for the capability to cluster the firewall configuration to assure availability and session survivability in the event of a firewall appliance update or failure. Flexibility in licensing is also necessary to address burst utilization or pandemic usage requirements. Additionally, support for deep inspection is highly recommended as a necessary precursor to support DLP requirements.

2. Email and Web Security
Email advertising and social media services can flood a network with traffic of little to no business value. And this traffic stream can be a wide conduit for malware. One response is to deploy your NGFWs with additional services such as deep-inspection, web filtering, anti-virus, and anti-spam services. Combining these services under one NFGW umbrella ensures that they are available (especially if the firewall solution is clustered for high availability) and implemented at all relevant chokepoints within an organization. Superior traffic control based on users and groups, as well as contextual awareness of attacks and their use by would-be attackers across the entirety of an organization, improves an organization's resistance to a breach. Furthermore, solutions that support contextual awareness may be able to share details on detected attacks across all firewalls under the same management control, and take broad actions. For example, the actions of an attacker against one firewall may be used to blacklist that attacker across all firewalls of the organization. This amplifying effect is particular pronounced if the NFGW management solution is multi-tenant capable and used to protect multiple divisions or firms.

3. Precise Security Policies
Control over traffic based on a variety of options will enable Network security administrators need great flexibility in granting privileges to employees to perform their jobs. In addition to typical firewall IP Address and port filtering, NGFW solutions also typically support the control of traffic by service (protocol), application, user identity, group affiliation, URL categorization, site reputation, time of day, method(s) of authentication, and context. Precise security policies can provide QoS directives so access control is governed by dynamic business requirements or the availability of underlying communications resources. For example, transaction traffic may be given preferential treatment over social media access by employees, and lower priority traffic is automatically shed if a circuit failure reduces available bandwidth.

4. Integrated Authentication Services
Independent authentication mechanisms often lack integration with the firewall. However, the integration of authentication services with NGFW policies can allow administrators to constrain, track, and log access to services. Such access controls often use a variety of authentication methods including token and virtual token systems. Virtual token applications for mobile phones and tablets reduce costs over traditional key fob tokens. In addition, integration to the NGFW unifies the management of how an individual or members of a group are authenticated.

5. Traffic Management and QoS
Firewalls that feature traffic management and quality of service (QoS) can provide detailed control on what traffic is permitted and at what priority, while assuring end-to-end capacity to meet session requirements. QoS selections such as bandwidth floors and ceilings help to differentiate traffic streams, assuring the streams are treated fairly and not inadvertently precluded in their entirety, or allowed to consume bandwidth to the detriment of other business activities. For isochronous (time sensitive) traffic such as VoIP or video conferencing, the proper handling of long-haul priority directives is necessary to ensure that in-band traffic with specific bandwidth and jitter requirements is accommodated on an as-needed basis.

In addition, traffic management can help triage traffic if sufficient networking bandwidth is unavailable to meet all approved needs. For example, transactions take priority over backups or social media access.

The NGFW can improve the utilization effectiveness of the network and its security posture. It is also a network chokepoint of access from WAN connectivity to remote facilities, mobile employees, and the Internet. Pay attention to all options available with NGFW products and understand how these evolving feature sets can help contain costs while reducing management complexity.

More Stories By Darren Suprina

Darren Suprina is an IT systems designer and security professional with more than 30 years of experience. This has included intellectual property creation, research, development, software and infrastructure design and validation, systems auditing, work as a professional witness, and author.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Microservices Articles
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and value...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
Consumer-driven contracts are an essential part of a mature microservice testing portfolio enabling independent service deployments. In this presentation we'll provide an overview of the tools, patterns and pain points we've seen when implementing contract testing in large development organizations.
Containers and Kubernetes allow for code portability across on-premise VMs, bare metal, or multiple cloud provider environments. Yet, despite this portability promise, developers may include configuration and application definitions that constrain or even eliminate application portability. In this session we'll describe best practices for "configuration as code" in a Kubernetes environment. We will demonstrate how a properly constructed containerized app can be deployed to both Amazon and Azure ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, discussed how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He also discussed how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.