When Jody Brazil and the folks at Firemon asked me if I’d write a post for this ”Future of the Firewall” series my first thought was, “if I had a nickel for every time someone told me the firewall was dead, I ‘d be rich.”
Yes, the good old firewall, the security technology everyone loves to hate, has been on supposed life support for years. But yet it’s a $9 billion market according to Gartner. We should all be that sick.
To be fair, today’s next generation devices bear little resemblance to those old Check Point boxes you may remember. It’s sort of like comparing a Model T Ford to a Tesla.
However, just as both cars can get you from A-B, today’s firewalls are doing the same things those old Check Point or Cisco Pix boxes did. While the speed, bandwidth, scalability and capability has increased, firewalls do the same thing now they did then, controlling ingress and egress.
Going into the future, firewalls will still perform this task.
I don’t want to leave the impression that nothing has or will change, though. Firewalls have evolved and collectively these changes have drastically shifted the model. For me, the biggest change is where the firewall lives; it’s no longer merely the drawbridge over the perimeter moat providing entrance to the castle.
A better analogy for how firewalls have changed might be found in comparing dinosaurs to birds. Just as the dinosaurs evolved into birds and took fight, firewalls have transformed. Initially they flew inside. One significant innovation was use of firewalls deployed inside the network to isolate segments, with highly sensitive data kept behind these internal systems.
Other firewalls evolved into big honking boxes sitting at the core of the network. Instead of perimeter devices, these firewalls performed ingress and egress monitoring/control at a critical choke point for all network traffic.
And just as some firewalls flew inside, other firewalls flew away altogether. Some flew to the cloud, where the servers were going, to protect the web servers and applications that serve as the interface for computing interactions.