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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! 

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Blog



Securing the Supply Chain with Security Policy Management
Dec 11, 2017
With the latest BCI Supply Chain Resiliency Report revealing that some of the top causes of supply chain disruption are cyberattacks and data breaches, and with global supply…
Why FireMon Continues to Dominate NPSM - Part 2: Real-Time Monitoring
Dec 05, 2017
In Part 1, we looked at how any solution that closes the Complexity Gap require Performance At Scale. If an organization is going to wrap…
Gartner’s Recommendations for Security Policy Configuration Assessment Part…
Nov 28, 2017
In Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series we saw how to implement Gartner’s first three recommendations for security configuration assessments (SCAs).…
Gartner’s Recommendations for Security Policy Configuration Assessment Part…
Nov 22, 2017
In this series, we're looking at the essential parts of a Security Configuration Assessment (SCA).  Let’s continue the dialogue and look at the other recommendations…








A Practical History of the Firewall - Part 2: The Value of Management



This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. It is Part 2 of 4 of FireMon Co-Founder and Chief Product Strategist, Jody Brazil’s, series “A Practical History of the Firewall.”

Open Ended Up to 1024 Px Wide - network-chalkboard.jpgCheck Point and stateful inspection firewalls won the early battle against proxy firewalls (Part 1: Early Days). It’s easy to suggest that it was all about the inspection technology, but that misses a key innovation of the Check Point solution: Policy Management. Stateful inspection firewalls winning out over the proxy competition in the mid-90s was due, in significant part, to ease of management.

Much of this article is focused on Check Point. This is primarily due to the dominant role Check Point played in the firewall market in the late 90s and early 2000s. However, it is also likely due to my exposure to Check Point in those years. I welcome your perspective and look forward to your comments.

The mid-90s was a time when networks were rapidly evolving. For example, ethernet was an option, but not always the local network protocol in use (remember token ring?). Connecting to the Internet was not assumed, it was discussed. Dial-up was still common, and AOL was the dominant player. To suggest that firewalls were mainstream technology would misunderstand the Internet as mainstream. One of the implications of this fast-changing network was a significant amount of ignorance and inexperience. In this context, the manageability of a firewall should not be overlooked as a key market driver for the eventual winner in this market.

Today, in software development, we talk about User Experience and Usability. While those weren’t the buzzwords at the time, the reason we talk about them today mattered just as much then. Customers "liked" the product better. So while security and performance mattered, the usability of the Check Point firewall GUI should not be dismissed.

To quote a Gauntlet sales rep at the time, "It didn't matter who the prospect was, every account I went into, I had to fight the Check Point GUI - and usually lose."

Check Point introduced their firewall with central management and a very innovative user interface. A few of the key capabilities included:

  • A graphical rule editor
  • Central object repository shared among the firewall policies
  • Central logging
  • Multi-domain management and OPSEC

The Check Point Policy Editor

The concept of a firewall rule being a 5-tuple of source, destination, protocol, port (protocol and port were combined into a single object referred to as a service) and action existed long before the Check Point policy editor. Early access control lists supported this concept in the 80s. However, Check Point changed the paradigm with the graphical rule editor. No longer was it necessary to know CLI syntax to create a rule. A mouse and a few clicks is all it took. 

In addition, rule editing was augmented with useful features like copy and paste, user-defined comments, multiple objects per column. This last point about multiple objects per column was revolutionary. Prior access control lists only supported a single source, single destination and single service in the respective columns. The support for multiple objects made each rule more powerful, and editing a policy often became an act of modifying an existing rule versus creating new rules. Much of this policy editor was predicated on another advancement, the central object repository.

The Check Point Central Object Repository

Historically, access control lists were created with a reference to a specific IP address for the source or destination. This worked, but if a system's IP changed, it meant that every rule would need updated. Similar to reusable source code, Check Point realized that creating a central object repository and using those objects in the rules would be a better strategy. Now if a host changed its IP, only the object needed to be updated, and the policy would automatically properly reflect that update since the policy used a reference to the stored object. In addition, it was possible to create groups of these objects (and groups of groups) to enable reuse of common groups of objects throughout the policy. These were significant advancements for more effective policy management.

Central Logging

An extremely common problem with firewalls is blocking the wrong traffic. Particularly when placing a firewall between two networks that had previously not been segmented, which in the late 90s was the case with nearly every new firewall deployment. The central logging of all firewall logs that was also easily searchable made diagnosing policy errors very obvious and comparatively simple. A user could report an issue, provide a source IP / destination IP combination, and an administrator could find the "drop" log in the log viewer and the associated rule that caused the drop (or alternatively find an "accept" log and tell the user they were wrong). Mistakes were, and still are, common with firewall policy administration, so easy troubleshooting was a key value-add to any firewall platform.

Multi-Domain Management and OPSEC

In the early 2000s, Check Point doubled-down on the power of management by introducing multi-domain management with Provider-1 and integration APIs with OPSEC. Both were a significant bet on the power of management to separate Check Point from other firewall competitors - and it worked.

Provider-1, as the name would suggest, was targeted at the provider community, telecommunications and managed service providers. While providers were early adopters of the technology, enterprises quickly found reasons to be consumers of the product as well. Key capabilities including permission control, management and UI performance by splitting up large policies and object databases, and global rules that could be applied and enforced globally were all key features desired by large enterprises. In large part, these were limitations in the standard management platform. While some could argue that Check Point should have fixed the management platform versus requiring customers to pay a significant premium for Provider-1, customers saw the benefits and were willing to pay for these advanced management capabilities.

OPSEC was a partner program and collection of APIs released by Check Point to encourage third-party product integration. Early successes including reporting products that used the Log Export API (LEA), URL filtering products using the URL Filtering Protocol (UFP) and management products, such as FireMon, using the Check Point Management Interface (CPMI). 

The program and integrations were a huge success. Today, there are well over 100 OPSEC partners offering some integration capability into the platform. This ecosystem of security products gives customers added value and confidence in their investment. Today, we take API integrations for granted, but in 2001 at the launch of OPSEC, this was not nearly as common.

Cisco and the CLI were a Dominant Player

The market wasn't completely dominated by Check Point and the GUI. While Check Point established itself as a leader in the firewall market with a powerful and easy to use GUI, Cisco remained true to its roots with a command line interface (CLI) in the Pix. The Pix was an earlier competitor in the firewall market, dating back to 1994 and acquired by Cisco in 1995. The familiarity of Cisco and the CLI to network administrators made the Pix the preferred choice when the network team was responsible for security.

Check Point would chip away at this advantage with their security features and GUI aided by a slow shift in enterprise organizational structure where security would become a separate group from the network team. As this shift happened, the existing relationship Cisco had with the network team played a diminishing role in firewall vendor selection.

The enhanced management capabilities helped establish Check Point's position in the market and reinforced the value of management for security products. But, just as performance helped Check Point beat the proxy in the 90s, in the years ahead, performance would once again be a key decision criteria, and this time Check Point would be threatened.

Events

Webinars

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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Nov 09, 2017 6 Steps for Firewall Assessment for Compliance and Security
Don’t let the pendulum swings fool you; firewalls are not dead, and the perimeter still matters. But in addition to the perimeter we recognize the need for more internal segmentation to limit lateral movement and protect segregated zones like the red forest. So, we need and probably should have more firewalls than ever.
View
Oct 31, 2017 Think GDPR Doesn't Impact You? Think Again...
Companies across the globe are scrambling to meet the new compliance directives that are imposed by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to go into effect in 2018. If you’re thinking, “I’m not in the EU, so it doesn’t matter”, think again.
View
Sep 26, 2017 GDPR: Security Management Best Practices You Need to Know
In this webinar, FireMon’s resident GDPR expert, Tim Woods, will help lay the groundwork for a plan to comply by the 2018 deadline. We’ll also cover the vital role security management plays in protecting data from the start, including these specific capabilities you need to comply with Articles 25, 32, 35 and 58.
View

News

Sep 05, 2017
SAO v. SIEM Security Suites: And the winner is...
TechBeacon
Aug 30, 2017
Jimmy Nukebot Explodes on the Scene, Transforming NeutrinoPOS
Info Security
Aug 17, 2017
The Top Security Challenges for 2017
SC Magazine
Aug 14, 2017
Creditseva, KS Enterprises Breaches Highlight Need for Improved Cloud Security
eSecurity Planet
Jul 31, 2017
What is IT governance? A formal way to align IT & business strategy
CIO.com
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
Motley Fool
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
SC Magazine
Jun 06, 2017
Election cyberattack proves people are still the biggest flaw
SearchSecurity
Jun 01, 2017
250K Photos Leaked in Cosmetic Surgery Extortion Attack
Info Security
Jun 01, 2017
OneLogin Breach Reignites Concerns over Password Managers
Dark Reading
Jun 01, 2017
OneLogin Breach Reignites Concerns over Password Managers
Dark Reading
May 29, 2017
How to manage the Complexity Gap
IT Pro Portal
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
Betanews
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
Information Security Buzz
May 23, 2017
WannaCry? Not really. A report from the 11th Eskenzi PR IT Analyst and CISO Forum
Computer Weekly
May 18, 2017
Cisco Warns Of Un-Patchable WannaCrypt Vulnerabilities
Information Security Buzz
May 16, 2017
Here comes the cloud...and it's all right
SC Magazine
May 15, 2017
10 ways cyber security will evolve in the face of growing threats
Information Age
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
Information Security Buzz
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
Dark Reading
May 12, 2017
WikiLeaks drops 'Grasshopper' documents, part four of its CIA Vault 7 files
Wired
  See all news from 2017



Resource Library

Audit Compliance

Datasheets

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
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.
Avoid These 'Bottom Ten' Networking Worst Practices
Gartner
Overcoming the Complexity Gap
Bloor
When You Can't Patch It, Protect It from the Network
Gartner
Firewall Sprawl
Aberdeen Group
Quantifying the Value of Intelligent Security Management
Aberdeen Group
Security Analytics Brings Data-Driven Security Into the 21st Century
Forrester
Automate Zero Trust Policy and Enforcement
Forrester
The Return on Security of FireMon’s Security Manager
IANS
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.