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Get to know us better! Gain valuable insights into how we think by visiting our blog, or take a look at the industry events we're frequenting on our events page. You can also geek out with us by attending one of our security management webinars, or dive head first into the products and solutions we provide in our Resource Library. There's lots to keep you busy! 



A Practical Guide to GDPR Compliance - Part 4: Continuous Compliance
Feb 15, 2018
Now that we’re approaching data protection with a risk-based method and are capable of technical measurement, we need to keep things clean and compliant. The…
Zero Trust & Visibility: 3 Critical Components Needed for Achieving Zero Trus…
Feb 14, 2018
While AWS is only one (large) component of the security landscape, it was interesting to be at the AWS re:Invent conference in late 2017. The…
A Practical Guide to GDPR Compliance - Step 3: Analysis
Feb 07, 2018
In this series, we’re breaking down the steps to achieving GDPR compliance leveraging tools and processes you already have. If you remember, the first step…
Demystifying Zero Trust & Microsegmentation
Feb 05, 2018
We’re kicking off a series of blog posts on the Zero Trust model of enterprise data protection. The model is championed by Forrester Research who…

Firewall Management and Security News

The Do's and Don'ts of Firewall Audit Tools

Updated November 6, 2017

Opinions are like noses, so the saying goes. Everyone has one. Network Security Policy Management (NSPM) is an area where the voices are loud, but not always relevant to the needs of today’s enterprises. 

When thinking about NSPM, there are some things to keep in mind. What follows is an attempt to help organizations frame the conversation and questions for better security, stronger compliance and general improvement in how we manage security in our changing world.


To start, most analysts have done a nice job covering the key points of evaluating the products without discussing any specific features. These recommendations focus generally on technology buying criteria rather than any particular feature. For example, one suggestion is to test the products in a bake-off before buying. Another suggestion is to make sure your NSPM solution has the right reporting features. These are not specific recommendations for which product to buy, but suggestions on what to consider when getting to a short-list. 

In an effort to collapse recommendations into their common themes, I’ve developed a list of Do’s and Don’ts when assessing potential solutions for Network Security Policy Management.


Exhaustive API-Based Device Support and Coverage

FireMon provides support for the leading security device (e.g. firewall) vendors including Check Point, Cisco, Juniper, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks, among others. Additionally, FireMon has the most comprehensive network device support for routers and switches (Layer-3 devices), such as Cisco and Juniper. Load balancers are continuing to become critical parts of any infrastructure and are often focal points for security threats. Additional support for load balancers (e.g. F5 and others) provides in-depth support for change management and configuration analysis.

We have this unique belief that open-API is the best way to accommodate changing infrastructure and security demands. FireMon has provided an open-API for any devices with native support for a wide-range of protocols – SSH, Syslog, Telnet, TFTP, FTP, UDP, TCP, etc. This helps our customers who will not always know what their future security investments will be. Having an open-API extends FireMon’s NSPM to many different systems (Proxies, SIEM, cloud, microsegmentation enforcement).

Not everyone in the NSPM space can do this. READ: Plug-ins are not an open-API. 

For vendors that have a long list of supported products, be sure to ask exactly what that support entails. In most cases, it is nothing more than a timed poll to the device to extract a few point-in-time configuration details. Many organizations do not have a real-time requirement for reporting or security assessments. Those who do, will prefer FireMon’s real-time capabilities…all brought about by having an exhaustive open-API.

Test the Products Before You Buy

This is of course a great idea and one that we strongly encourage. As with any technology purchase, when you evaluate solutions, you will see that FireMon brings significant differences to the network security policy management challenge. 

Now, often you do not have a lab environment that will fully replicate what your production needs. However, there are a few simple steps to help you identify what can be done with a given technology.

  1. Deployment model: Does the technology provide Virtual, Cloud, On-prem options?
  2. Data ingest: Does the solution offer streaming data or just periodic polling from devices?
  3. Reporting: Does the solution offer customizable reporting, or do you need a large professional services engagement?
  4. Scale: Does the NSPM solution have a distributed architecture?

The final piece here is extremely important. Most NSPM vendors provide a solution that has its application server and data ingest within the same appliance (virtual or on-prem). This creates a bottleneck: reports take too long, polling isn’t synced, lower confidence in the data you are trying to analyze.

Furthermore, most solutions do not have the flexibility to customize reporting. This means that in order to get at all that data, you need a large professional services group to spend weeks with you to report on 2-3 extra fields.

Testing is so important, because that is how we discover if a solutions demos well or if it can actually meet your requirements.

NOTE: Testing is not the same as a proof-of-concept (POC). It’s your investment, make sure you have tested everything against your requirements. Avoid the POC trap where a vendor can confine the testing to areas they excel. Instead, get demonstrated evidence of the four points above. 

Determine Reporting Requirements

This seems obvious, the solution must deliver the reports you need. FireMon offers a full suite of out-of-the-box reports including policy optimization, security analysis, compliance reports (internal and regulatory such as PCI DSS), change reports and many more. Within minutes of installing FireMon, you can generate analysis reports against all your network security devices.

But don't be limited by what a vendor provides you. When it comes to reporting, you need a solution that addresses your specific needs. 

Organizations are like snowflakes – each one is unique, but are comprised of similar components. It’s the arrangement of your network and compliance needs that makes you, you

With this in mind, FireMon was architected to be extensible. Customize any existing report. Create brand new reports. Share ideas with other customers. Download and run custom reports that other customers created. 

Recently, we were exhibiting at a firewall manufacturer conference. One of our customers approached us asking about a report to search a particular policy for all rules with a specific name. In less than 20-minutes, we customized an existing report that searched rules by comment to offer a search-by-name. This customer had a very specific reason to need to do this, and the extensible and open nature of FireMon’s analysis allowed us to provide this report in minutes.

Don't get locked into what the vendor thinks you want...get what you want.

Automated Workflow

The idea behind workflow in the NSPM was a natural extension from the change management needs of the enterprise. FireMon answers this market need, automating the process from rule design to implementation. 

Firewalls are unique from hosts, and the inputs to a firewall change are unique as well. This is why organizations look for an NSPM with firewall-centric workflow. But don't just stop with workflow; make sure it adds real value to your process.

If the only thing a workflow tool does is add specific fields, you should question if it is worth it. Instead, the workflow should automate the challenges in the change process. For example, it is necessary to make sure the right change is made to any network device. So, any workflow automation tool should have rule recommendation that is integrated right into the workflow process. FireMon will recommend what change (if any) should be made to the firewall policy. Too often, unnecessary or ineffective changes are made. Rule recommendation prevents mistakes by identifying if a change is necessary, what change should be made and just as critical, where in the policy the change should be made. Aside from minimizing mistakes, you can drastically reduce the time and effort to make the change. This is what automated workflow really means: automatically improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Review and Refine Policies and Procedures

This is a key point. Why spend money on technology? Because it make a measurable improvement to security posture and reduce security risk. Don't assume flashy technology will change human nature. Choose a product that be flexible in how it is implemented into your organization.

In most cases, start small. Using the 80-20 rule, focus on the big problems with easy solutions. For example, using FireMon's rule usage analysis, you can identify unused rules that can be removed from a policy. If you are facing a compliance audit that requires justifying your rule set, just think how much simpler that task will be if you first delete 35% of your policy that is unused. Implement effective change management right out of the box. If you have problems with administrators making bad changes, start with effective monitoring and be alerted about those changes. With no change to the existing process, you can begin to nudge behavior in the right direction.

Then, begin to refine your policies to meet your desired goals. Now that you have FireMon in place, it is possible to monitor and enforce more comprehensive policies. Improve your change process with more effective, real-time assessments of all changes. Implement workflow to more proactively manage change. This is what management, and FireMon, is all about. Don't just fix it once, fix it for good.


Don't Overlook Scalability

Enterprise networks can be large, complex, distributed environments. You don't funnel all your network traffic through one choke point, so don't buy a management product that tries to do it either. Scalable management solutions should solve the following problems:

  • Single view of the entire environment
  • Distributed monitoring to handle a growing load
  • Geographically distributed monitoring to avoid network overhead

Only FireMon can achieve these capabilities – seriously, I’m not making this up. FireMon scales because of an architecture that is comprised of a central reporting and data server and distributed data collection modules to meet the needs of any enterprise network. This architecture means that you keep a single view of the network without requiring all data flow back to a central choke point. It also means you can scale to thousands of devices in one installation. Again, FireMon is the only NSPM solution capable of this today.

Don't Buy More Than You Need

This is a great point. FireMon has always been priced by device with a very affordable entry point for any customer. Whether you are managing two firewalls or 2,000, FireMon provides licensing to meet your need. The driving force behind FireMon has always been to solve real problems. We are here to solve real management problems and see our customers succeed. This may seem obvious, but there are many solution providers who created something because someone had a nifty idea, not because it was necessary. FireMon created the category of Network Security Policy Management. We continue to lead, because we are maniacal about customer success.

Don't Use Underpowered Resources

Often this goes without saying, but let’s not understate the need here. Think about it, every morsel of traffic in a given network (on-prem, cloud, virtual) all bump into policy. That creates a flood of security events. Make sure the resources you have are tailored to your specific environment. Again, back to the snowflake…

This is also why testing for different deployment models is so vital. When testing, make sure the deployment is as near to reality as possible, allowing you to calibrate and get to the right resource need. Far too many NSPM deployments fail because people bought into the statement, “Don’t worry about it. Our solution ‘just works’. You’ll be fine.” Sadly, it usually comes from the mouths of those without a distributed architecture, exacerbating the resource troubles. 

Other Considerations


As analysts everywhere will indicate, compliance is often a key driver for purchasing an NSPM. When evaluating solutions for compliance, don't just look for a product with compliance reports, look for a solution that will actually improve your compliance. 

A good example of this is documentation. Nearly all compliance regulations require justifying the access that is permitted through the firewalls. Whether you are considering regulatory standards (e.g. PCI DSS, NERC) or internal governance, documenting why a firewall is configured necessary for attestation. Implementing change management is good, but only part of the answer. Look for an NSPM that can streamline the process of maintaining a documented configuration. It is required, so make it as simple as possible. With FireMon, when the audit comes around, it can be as simple as generating the report.

Community Support

You are not alone in your desire or necessity to improve network security policies. You don't have to be alone when it comes to implementation either. With a strong community of support, you can get answers to your questions from your industry peers. Find out how others are solving the same problems. And just as importantly, get solutions to those problems. FireMon has the largest network of peers, each of which is ready to share their knowledge and expertise with one another. Security is a fraternity, FireMon is a common campfire professional gather around.

Josh Mayfield serves as FireMon's Director of Product Marketing.



Feb 13, 2018 Network Segmentation: Implement Roadblocks on the Attack Surface, Stop Malicious Spread
Most organizations that I talk to still have their networks designed for 90's era attacks. A hard perimeter and little to nothing on the inside. The one common exception is the part of the network that processes credit card data since PCI DSS specifically identifies the Cardholder Data Network (CDN) and requires controls around it.
Jan 25, 2018 GDPR Primer for IT
Join us for a very special Expert Roundtable where vendors in the industry set aside their sales pitches to get you the information and advice about GDPR preparation that you need.
Jan 11, 2018 The Value of Using Security Policy Orchestration and Automation for Improving Change Management and SecOps

Join David Monahan, managing research director at leading IT analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), and discover the difference between organizations using an SPOA solution to manage their firewall environments versus those not using one of these solutions.

Dec 06, 2017 6 Ways to Evaluate Firewall Change Requests to Ensure Security and Compliance and Prevent Risk Creep
Firewalls are like Roach Motels – rules check in but they don’t checkout. When you look at a firewall with thousands (or tens of thousands) of rules you have to wonder if they are all still needed. Join Ultimate Windows Security and FireMon to find out how to automate the work flow of firewall change requests, capture and document rule changes, evaluate the impact of rules and compare rules to the characteristics of the actual packets being passed by those rules.


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The Top Security Challenges for 2017
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Creditseva, KS Enterprises Breaches Highlight Need for Improved Cloud Security
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Jul 31, 2017
What is IT governance? A formal way to align IT & business strategy
Jul 28, 2017
How organizations can work toward GDPR compliance
Information Management
Jul 09, 2017
4 Signs Check Point Software's Best Days Are Ahead
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Jun 07, 2017
Qakbot malware from 2009 returns, causes Active Directory lockouts
SC Magazine UK
Jun 06, 2017
Botched security: Celebrities, other patients, affected after plastic surgery files are breached and stolen
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Election cyberattack proves people are still the biggest flaw
Jun 01, 2017
250K Photos Leaked in Cosmetic Surgery Extortion Attack
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Jun 01, 2017
OneLogin Breach Reignites Concerns over Password Managers
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Jun 01, 2017
OneLogin Breach Reignites Concerns over Password Managers
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May 29, 2017
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May 26, 2017
Hackers upgrading malware to 64-bit code to evade detection
SC Magazine UK
May 25, 2017
83 percent of security staff waste time fixing other IT problems
May 24, 2017
Unsanctioned Computer Support Costs Companies $88K per Year
Dark Reading
May 23, 2017
WannaCry Successor Is New ‘Doomsday’ SMB Worm That Uses 7 NSA Hacking Tools
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May 23, 2017
WannaCry? Not really. A report from the 11th Eskenzi PR IT Analyst and CISO Forum
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May 18, 2017
Cisco Warns Of Un-Patchable WannaCrypt Vulnerabilities
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Here comes the cloud...and it's all right
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May 15, 2017
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May 12, 2017
Managing Complexity Is No. 1 Security Challenge in FireMon’s Annual State of the Firewall Report
Computing Security
May 12, 2017
Sabre Breach
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May 12, 2017
FireMon Announces Industry’s First Intelligent Cloud Security Management Solution
IT Security Guru
May 12, 2017
FireMon Releases Third Annual State of the Firewall Report
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May 12, 2017
WikiLeaks drops 'Grasshopper' documents, part four of its CIA Vault 7 files
  See all news from 2017

Resource Library

Audit Compliance


Policy Change

Solution Briefs

Policy Change

White Papers

Visibility Monitoring Management

Analyst Reports

Policy Change

Case Studies

Security Manager
Overview of FireMon’s Flagship Firewall Management Solution
Policy Planner
Overview of FireMon’s Change Automation Solution
Policy Optimizer
Overview of FireMon’s Rule Recertification Automation Solution
Risk Analyzer
Overview of FireMon’s Attack Simulation and Risk Measurement Solution
Immediate Insight
Overview of FireMon’s Immediate Insight Solution
Intelligent Security Management
Delivering next-generation security management that boosts productivity and accelerates the agility of business
Intelligent Policy Automation
Intelligent Policy Automation: Orchestrating Change Management with Speed and Security.
Hybrid Cloud Management
Visibility into and control over Cloud Services, including AWS and OpenStack Platforms
Accelerated Incident Response
Immediate Insight in action - Orchestration, automation and analytics for data assembly and discovery
Change Simulation & Risk Scoring
Proactively reduce risk based upon network exposure and host accessibility
Check Point Solution Brief
FireMon solutions and Check Point
Cisco Solution Brief

FireMon’s Intelligent Security Management platform enables users with Cisco Systems switches, routers and firewalls (Pix, ASA, FirePower) to work smarter, applying intelligence to the entire security program

Fortinet Solution Brief
FireMon solutions for Fortinet
Juniper Solution Brief
FireMon solutions for Juniper
NSX Solution Brief
FireMon solutions for NSX
Palo Alto Solution Brief
FireMon Solutions for Palo Alto
The Four Factors Necessary For Zero Trust

FireMon helps organizations move towards Zero Trust by providing:

  • Visibility into the network
  • Analysis of network traffic flow and possible breach points
  • Security Intent to determine what’s permissible
  • Orchestration to consistently automate what needs to be done
5 Reasons to Implement Security Policy Orchestration and Automation

Reduce your attack surface with a Security Policy Orchestration and Automation solution like FireMon.

Managing Migration Mayhem
Migrations can strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned security professional. Follow this roadmap for a smooth, successful migration.
Four Ways to Reduce Your Attack Surface

Larger attack surface means more opportunities for cybercriminals to do harm. Learn how FireMon can help you remove exposures before they become exploited.

Why GDPR is Nothing to Fear
A practical (and sometimes philosophical) guide to complying with the General Data Protection Regulation.
Four Key Factors for a Successful Migration

Migrations run the risk of cost overrun, delays and disruption of network service - often due to a lack of personnel and process to efficiently and effectively manage. To ensure a successful migration, consider these four key factors: 1) identifying and removing technical mistakes, 2) removing unused access, 3) refining and organizing what remains and 4) continuous, real-time monitoring.

Top 5 Requirements for Your NSPM Solution
Network Security Policy Management (NSPM) continues to be a difficult practice for organizations the world over. In the last 20 years, network security policies (e.g. firewall rules) have grown by more than 3,500%. Yes, you read that number correctly. Why is that?
Achieving Gartner's Recommendations for Secure Policy Configuration Assessment
Gartner research has uncovered a number of security policy challenges for enterprises. Among these challenges are the typical assessments necessary to fortify policy for compliance and improved security posture.
The Top 4 Myths of Policy Compliance
Welcome to the world of overflowing regulations and compliance standards, of evolving infrastructure and the ever-present breach. It's a world where 72% of security and compliance personnel say their jobs are more difficult today than just two years ago.
Planning Considerations for Compliance with GDPR
The GDPR deadline is approaching quickly. If you haven’t started your GDPR journey yet, now is the time.
2017 State of the Firewall
Networking continues to evolve, yet the firewall remains critical to securing today’s enterprises. FireMon is proud to present its 3rd Annual State of the Firewall Report
Firewall Cleanup Recommendations
The implications of firewall policy complexity, why it remains a problem today and how to resolve it.
Risk Solved: Automated, Real-Time Risk Analysis & Remediation
Risk analysis with real-time change configuration is key to managing security risks in your IT infrastructure.
Real-Time Data Triage
Our Immediate Insight platform from FireMon can help organizations overcome the limitations and gaps inherent to the current analytic market.
Bridging the SIEM Alert Triage Gap
Immediate Insight enables security teams to improve event triage and incident response, extending the value of your existing full-featured SIEM.
Automation Isn't One-Size-Fits-All
Intelligent Policy Automation
Intelligent Security Management

Helping Enterprise Security Teams Improve Resource Efficiency & Reduce Overall Risk Exposure

The Top 5 Myths of Data Breaches
Five of the biggest myths that exist about data breaches, and explain how and why they occur.
Firewall Sprawl: Top Four Security Gaps Exposed

Firewall technology has come a long way since its initial, most rudimentary forms. Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) are the latest development, and organizations are accelerating adoption to the new technology. But NGFWs aren’t a fix-all solution.

2016 State of the Firewall
2nd Annual State of the Firewall Report based on survey of 600 IT security practitioners.
The Zero Trust eXtended Ecosystem


Forrester’s Zero Trust Model of information security helps teams develop robust prevention, detection and incident response capabilities to protect their company's vital digital business ecosystem. This report will help security pros understand the technologies best suited to empowering and extending their Zero Trust initiatives and will detail how Forrester sees this model and framework growing and evolving.

Avoid These 'Bottom Ten' Networking Worst Practices
Overcoming the Complexity Gap
When You Can't Patch It, Protect It from the Network
Firewall Sprawl
Aberdeen Group
Quantifying the Value of Intelligent Security Management
Aberdeen Group
Security Analytics Brings Data-Driven Security Into the 21st Century
Automate Zero Trust Policy and Enforcement
The Return on Security of FireMon’s Security Manager
Large Healthcare Provider
The customer sought a data analysis tool to correlate application data with network and security data to spot service-impacting anomalies. They did not have an accurate picture of interoperability between applications and the underlying infrastructure.
Major Airline
Following a merger with another airline, this customer was left managing a large number of firewalls and routers from different security vendors using a home-grown application.
National Insurance Provider
This national insurance provider had three problems to tackle regarding their firewall policies. First, the number of rules under management was overwhelming staff and processes. They needed to increase visibility and effectiveness of their firewall change request/workflow ticketing process. And they also need help maintaining compliance PCI DSS requirements.
Managed Service Provider
Each time this Global MSP engaged a new customer, they had to onboard the firewalls – sometimes hundreds per engagement – into their network. Part of the onboarding process required assessing the policies against internal best practices – a manual, line-by-line process that took an average of 16 hours/firewall and was extremely error-prone.