Businesses, as well as consumers, are using cloud technology nowadays. Nearly 90% of the enterprises are using the cloud in some way or other, along with individuals who use them in almost every activity in their lives, such as using cloud applications in Google docs, Dropbox, etc.
Cloud computing is now the standard technology and hence there has been a need for a hybrid combination of a cyber-physical system. The new approach calls for a renewed focus on the security aspects where earlier zoned physical networks were secured internally on a stand-alone basis. Now cloud computing reinforces the need to have the concept of security where firewalls are now offered by cloud providers with a key focus on filtering behavior.
What is a cloud Firewall?
To understand a firewall concept, let us look at a physical infrastructure where security is in place. A business place where financial transactions are made, such as banks, has security features in the form of human security guards, CCTV's and bulletproof glass, etc. They together ensure that the cash is protected in the premises from potential theft and robbery.
Typically, cash is stored in highly secured vaults and is perfectly safe as it is kept in one secured place. But what would happen if a single bank branch cash were instead stored in different places all over in various other branches? To ensure that its cash was safe, the particular Bank branch would deploy additional security measures to safeguards them, which are scattered around by controlling them remotely from its base location.
Cloud firewalls carry out the same functions except that it manages stored data and other critical resources for an enterprise instead of money. Cloud-based applications can be operated from anywhere and on any network by authorized users only. The cloud firewall protects the data in the cloud from cyber-attacks. This cloud firewall security is hosted in the cloud. It forms a virtual barrier around different cloud platforms, applications, and network infrastructure in the cloud, similar to banks' physical security. To take the analogy further, it is like replacing a bank branch security such as CCTV’S, security guards, local safe vaults with centralized 24/7 surveillance from the central monitoring team.
The importance of firewalls has become critical in today's digital world. More users are connected to the Internet, allowing malicious traffic to invade an organization's internal network. The firewall acts as a barrier between an internal system network, which is already protected from unauthorized intrusions, and an external untrusted network such as the Internet.
In earlier days, physical devices ensured protection from unauthorized users in an organization with an internal set of rules such as hierarchy, domain authority from accessing any data or information. With virtual servers in use today, the division between the internal trusted network and the Internet is gone.
Firewall as a “Service”
Like any other “as a service” category like Software as a service or Platform as a service, the firewall as a “service” is another term for cloud firewall. This is a virtual service that runs in the cloud and is accessed over the Internet. This service is usually provided by third-party vendors who undertake to deliver cybersecurity services continuously.
For Firewall service providers, security is a major factor in cloud computing along with cyber-physical systems. Cloud computing allows sensitive internal traffic travel on the Internet. The hybrid model blurs the traditional concept of zoned networks in physical systems. Also, responsibilities are shared between the service provider and the customer for cloud applications, whereas in the earlier scenario, these physical systems were initially developed as stand-alone systems without the vague idea of interconnection, making them susceptible to any attack. Transferring the as-is internet traffic to the cloud does not mean having a secure solution has been achieved.
Firewall service providers have developed extendible firewall monitoring tools that allow their customers to penetrate the service provider’s filtering behavior. The continuously evolving filtering aspects of firewalls have led to enhanced configuration possibilities, more filtration of illegitimate packets, etc.
Cloud firewall – next step
The next-generation firewall comes up with new technologies that are not available in the earlier firewall products. The new features include
• The intrusion prevention system ensures protection from cyber-attacks by detecting them in advance and blocking it.
• Deep inspection packets inspect not only the headers as in earlier systems but also the payload. This helps in detecting malicious data and other kinds of malware.
• Controls individual application access or even blocks them if required.
The next-generation firewall Is not restricted only to the cloud but also works on the "on-premises systems."
Understanding the network perimeter and the effect of cloud firewall
The network perimeter is the boundary between an organization's internal network and an internet service provider's external network. In other words, the network perimeter means that it is the edge up to which the organization has control. Initially, firewalls were designed to control this perimeter and act as a barrier and not allow any malware or malicious data to penetrate inside. However, in cloud computing, this perimeter disappears, and the user's physical location does not matter anymore.
Many cloud-based firewalls work in tandem with other types of securities such as VPNs, IPS products, access controls to defend against any cyber-attacks, data breaches, and other threats.
After reading the above article, one can get an idea about what a cloud firewall is, understand how cloud firewalls differ from traditional firewalls, understand firewall as a "service "concept, and know the difference between the cloud firewall and the next-generation firewall.