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Firewalls Remain Relevant as NGFWs Take Off

Despite a backlash against network perimeter security, firewalls remain an extremely valuable part of the network security infrastructure, a survey has revealed; and, next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) are continuing to see broad adoption, adding complexity to security management.

According to Firemon’s annual firewall report, 91% of respondents stated that firewalls are as critical as ever (56.6%) or more critical than ever (34.2%) to their security architecture. And this will hold steady: 91% believe that this will continue to be the case looking ahead to the next five years (56% and 32.5%, respectively).

The responses show a growing perception of value in firewalls with new technology paradigms such as the cloud. Two-thirds of respondents stated that firewalls are somewhat (38.9%) or highly valuable (28.8%) to the cloud services they manage—which is a 10% increase over 2015.

The study also revealed that NGFWs represent at least 50% of current firewall infrastructure in nearly half of the organizations surveyed, compared to 34% last year.  The percentage of organizations with no NGFWs in place decreased to just 6.7%.

However, just 12.1% have exclusively NGFWs in place—indicating plenty of room for the space to grow.

There has also been increased adoption of the advanced firewall features available with NGFWs, including intrusion prevention, threat data integration and malware control.

“The distribution of responses signals that organizations are seeking more than the traditional capabilities associated with NGFWs such as application awareness and user awareness,” Firemon noted in the report.

Overall, the report concluded that the threat to the firewall as the center of the security infrastructure is not immediate. It continues to play a critical role in the majority of today’s enterprises.

“The role of the firewall will have to evolve more as NGFWs become the norm, and as emerging infrastructure paradigms such as [software-defined networking], cloud and micro-segmentation take hold,” said the company. “Of course, none of this makes managing security infrastructure any less complex. We foresee continued investment in tools that simplify management of multi-vendor, multi-platform environments as well as those that simplify migration to next-generation, SDN and micro-segmented environments.”

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