Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Anders Wallgren, Jason Bloomberg, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

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.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze 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, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
The (re?)emergence of Microservices was especially prominent in this week’s news. What are they good for? do they make sense for your application? should you take the plunge? and what do Microservices mean for your DevOps and Continuous Delivery efforts? Continue reading for more on Microservices, containers, DevOps culture, and more top news from the past week. As always, stay tuned to all the news coming from@ElectricCloud on DevOps and Continuous Delivery throughout the week and retweet/favo...
If we look at slow, traditional IT and jump to the conclusion that just because we found its issues intractable before, that necessarily means we will again, then it’s time for a rethink. As a matter of fact, the world of IT has changed over the last ten years or so. We’ve been experiencing unprecedented innovation across the board – innovation in technology as well as in how people organize and accomplish tasks. Let’s take a look at three differences between today’s modern, digital context...
The battle over bimodal IT is heating up. Now that there’s a reasonably broad consensus that Gartner’s advice about bimodal IT is deeply flawed – consensus everywhere except perhaps at Gartner – various ideas are springing up to fill the void. The bimodal problem, of course, is well understood. ‘Traditional’ or ‘slow’ IT uses hidebound, laborious processes that would only get in the way of ‘fast’ or ‘agile’ digital efforts. The result: incoherent IT strategies and shadow IT struggles that lead ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at 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. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at 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. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
As software organizations continue to invest in achieving Continuous Delivery (CD) of their applications, we see increased interest in microservices architectures, which–on the face of it–seem like a natural fit for enabling CD. In microservices (or its predecessor, “SOA”), the business functionality is decomposed into a set of independent, self-contained services that communicate with each other via an API. Each of the services has their own application release cycle, and are developed and depl...
At the heart of the Cloud Native model is a microservices application architecture, and applying this to a telco SDN scenario offers enormous opportunity for product innovation and competitive advantage. For example in the ETSI NFV Ecosystem white paper they describe one of the product markets that SDN might address to be the Home sector. Vendors like Alcatel market SDN-based solutions for the home market, offering Home Gateways – A virtual residential gateway (vRGW) where service provider...
In the Bimodal model we find two areas of IT - the traditional kind where the main concern is keeping the lights on and the IT focusing on agility and speed, where everything needs to be faster. Today companies are investing in new technologies and processes to emulate their most agile competitors. Gone are the days of waterfall development and releases only every few months. Today's IT and the business it powers demands performance akin to a supercar - everything needs to be faster, every sc...
With microservices, SOA and distributed architectures becoming more popular, it is becoming increasingly harder to keep track of where time is spent in a distributed application when trying to diagnose performance problems. Distributed tracing systems attempt to address this problem by following application requests across service boundaries, persisting metadata along the way that provide context for fine-grained performance monitoring.
Web performance issues and advances have been gaining a stronger presence in the headlines as people are becoming more aware of its impact on virtually every business, and 2015 was no exception. We saw a myriad of major outages this year hit some of the biggest corporations, as well as some technology integrations and other news that we IT Ops aficionados find very exciting. This past year has offered several opportunities for growth and evolution in the performance realm — even the worst failu...
Are you someone who knows that the number one rule in DevOps is “Don’t Panic”? Especially when it comes to making Continuous Delivery changes inside your organization? Are you someone that theorizes that if anyone implements real automation changes, the solution will instantly become antiquated and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable?
Welcome to the first top DevOps news roundup of 2016! At the end of last year, we saw some great predictions for 2016. While we’re excited to kick off the new year, this week’s top posts reminded us to take a second to slow down and really understand the current state of affairs. For example, do you actually know what microservices are – or aren’t? What about DevOps? Does the emphasis still fall mostly on the development side? This week’s top news definitely got the wheels turning and just migh...
Test automation is arguably the most important innovation to the process of QA testing in software development. The ability to automate regression testing and other repetitive test cases can significantly reduce the overall production time for even the most complex solutions. As software continues to be developed for new platforms – including mobile devices and the diverse array of endpoints that will be created during the rise of the Internet of Things - automation integration will have a huge ...
I recently spotted a five-year-old blog post by Mike Gualtieri of Forrester, where he suggests firing your quality assurance (QA) team to improve your quality. He got the idea from a client who actually tried and succeeded with this counterintuitive move. The thinking goes that without a QA team to cover for them, developers are more likely to take care of quality properly – or risk getting the dreaded Sunday morning wakeup call to fix something. Gualtieri’s post generated modest buzz at th...