Gartner Security & Risk Summit: No Farewell to Firewalls




Every so often someone suggests that network firewalls are no longer necessary – typically based on the emergence of shiny new, “gotta have it” technology or the notion that this 20+ year old first line of defense – introduced at DEC in 1992 by Marcus Ranum – no longer matters.

However, if you listen to the experts – in this case leading industry analyst firm Gartner and their 14,000-plus clients – such claims are clearly misguided.

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At the firm’s annual Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit nearly every session reinforced that firewalls, and more effective management of these inherently complex devices, are just as critical, if not more so, than ever.

From the summit’s opening keynote, stressing the need for CSOs to tie their efforts directly to business initiatives (and bridge IT silos with offerings like FireMon’s recently launched Policy Optimizer) – to breakouts dedicated specifically to corralling firewall policy and rule bases, the importance of stout firewall defenses was emphasized… repeatedly.

Sure, there was the point-counterpoint “Farewell to Firewalls” presentation in which Gartner’s forward-looking thought leader Dr. Joseph Feiman focused on the need for new applications-centric mechanisms, specifically embedded runtime application self-protection [RASP] capabilities.

But, as artfully advanced by Gartner network security guru Greg Young during the debate, and ultimately conceded by Feiman himself, the continued development and adoption of such emerging technologies will require continued reliance on firewalls.

Longtime Gartner risk expert Neil MacDonald’s session on “Continuous Advanced Threat Protection” hammered home the need for more proactive and context-aware management of network security infrastructure; MacDonald’s “Adaptive Security Architecture” emphasized that strategy must shift from traditional “detection” and “response” methodologies to more “predictive” and “preventative” tactics.

These observations validate FireMon’s vision that adding network security intelligence to existing cyber defenses can significantly automate manual processes and free security teams for other critical projects.

For further evidence, one needed to look no further than network security analyst Adam Hils’ overview of inquiry calls made by Gartner clients during the first half of 2014.

His hard numbers: a whopping 51 percent of the over 1,500 calls taken related directly to firewalls, and were divided between “my rule base is a mess, how can I clean-up and better manage?” and “next gen firewalls – should I migrate and how?”

The second place topic – IPS issues – only accounted for 22 percent of all calls.

So, there’s hard evidence that any predictions that firewalls are either yesterday’s news or increasingly less strategic are… highly overstated; the Gartner numbers simply don’t lie.

We update Gartner analysts regularly on our customer wins, real world ROI data and technology roadmap – and listen closely to the “pain points” they hear about from clients. These analysts understand precisely how valuable FireMon solutions can be in advancing your organization’s own network security posture.

So why take our word for it? Give them a call and find out for yourself.

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