What is a Cloud Firewall? What is FireWall as a Service (FWaaS)?

History of Firewalls

Firewalls are boundary protectors, the first line of defence for enterprise networks. Firewall technology emerged in the late 1980s when the Internet was fairly a new technology in terms of its global usage and connectivity. In the year 1988 the first generation of firewalls emerged which were packet filtering firewalls, in 1989 – 1990 stateful filters-based firewalls emerged which were soon replaced by application layer firewalls in the year 1991. In 2004 IDC (International Data Corporation) coined a term called unified threat management which was a firewall with real time network protection and soon in 2009 Gartner defined the concept of next generation firewalls (also known as NGFWs) which comprises a lot of things from a security perspective. 

In today’s article, we would look more in detail about terminology of cloud firewall or Firewall as a service (FWaaS) as it called sometimes, what are its key features, how it works etc.

What is Cloud Firewall?

When everything is moving to the cloud then why not firewall and functions it offers? Firewall functions as a barrier which prevents illegal entry into the networks but FWaaS based cloud firewall enables businesses to simplify their architecture. It includes other features such as web filtering, threat protection, intrusion prevention system, and DNS server security as in Next generation firewalls.

It is a cloud-based security system as the name suggests which also provides a hyper scale, next generation firewall. FWaaS sits between client device and the Internet. The FireWall as a Service examines traffic as it seeks to enter the system. Inspection examines data contained in each packet header, gaining insight into where packet was originated, as well as other behaviours which could be potentially malicious. 

How Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) works?

FWaaS works similar to cloud infrastructure service. FireWall as a Service vendors have huge deployments of massive firewalls, they create virtual isolation between the services given to different customers. Each client is assigned a virtual instance of FWaaS service which is modifiable via centralized console. Cybersecurity teams can configure firewall rules as per organization security policy and modify network and DNS settings to flip the virtual switch, route traffic via FWaaS vendor infrastructure. Some established FWaaS vendors are Palo Alto networks, Cisco, Zscaler, Checkpoint, Cato etc

Each block of data packet coming or existing from Intranet or host system is analysed by firewalls. And firewalls can take three actions based on security rules defined.

  • Accept – Allow packet to be transmitted
  • Drop – data packets do not received response are blocked
  • Reject – Block packet data and notify source of an ‘unreachable error’ 

Features of FWaaS (FireWall as a Service)

The key features of Firewall as a Service are:

  • Block malicious web traffic including malware and bad bot activity. Also block sensitive data going out (Some FireWall as a Service products)
  • Network choke points are cleared as traffic need not to route through hardware appliance
  • Cloud firewalls can be easily integrated with existing cloud infrastructures
  • Scale up rapidly as per demand to handle more traffic
  • No need to install, manage firewall – all is service provider responsibility 
  • Multiple cloud deployments can be protected at once 
  • Security teams can define all policies at one place and FireWall as a Service will enforce these across locations both on premises as well as in cloud

Quick facts!

The Global Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) Market size was valued at USD 0.95 Billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 4.16 Billion by 2028,

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