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The New Reality of Firewall Log Analysis

Firewall log analysis used to be a simple endeavour.  The logs were generated by perimeter firewall with relatively few functions.  Logging into the console of the firewall would permit a security administrator to perform firewall log analysis right on the box. There wasn’t any fancy requirements for analytics software because there was nothing special about the logs prior to Unified Threat Management and other modern integrated security appliances.  The reason is that security used to be relatively simple, just like physical buildings and areas within them were defined with clear “perimeters” that companies could protect with locks, and security sensors with alarms, and if necessary, security monitoring cameras.  This approach included protection of assets through filtering of traffic, but there was no need for deep packet inspection because there was no physical payload equivalent.  So the comparable analogy of firewall log analyzer in the physical world was a security guard at the gate!  However, in the firewall the events would be collected by configuring the firewall to some maximum verbose setting, pointing the logs at some local IP hosting a server to collect the logs.

Firewalls have emerged to protect networks with the rise of computing and data stored on corporate servers and PCs. This makes firewall monitoring a key requirement in any complete security management strategy. This applies to enterprises, and small and medium size businesses as well.

Perimeter protection today, however, is vastly more complex, and corporate data is accessible by an array of attack vectors that all require configuration in firewall monitoring – laptops, tablets and smartphones – that represent an ever-changing perimeter with ever-evolving risks of serious data breaches.

Protecting data, as a result now requires a dual approach to security.  That is, there is a need for a firewall analyzer to track and trend the traditional “inside” network security to protect data on servers.  And furthermore firewall log analysis is necessary for “outside” perimeter security to prevent the use of external vulnerabilities to circumvent network security.

This is also further complicated by a new technology landscape for corporations to navigate. It includes mobility, cloud computing and the Internet of Things that are introducing a slew of new risks, and consequently increasing the complexity of firewall monitoring. In order to combat today’s threats companies must engage in firewall monitoring for their entire perimeter – inside and outside the organization – by increasing network and endpoint security.  While most companies already understand the need for a robust firewall log analyzer to monitor data threats on corporate networks, many don’t yet know what it takes to implement an effective strategy for firewall monitoring on a continuous basis. The most effective way is with a highly coordinated, holistic security plan using multiple, integrated tools that can adapt to evolving threats, changing business requirements and specific company risk profiles.

By installing a next-generation firewall log analyzer and centralizing firewall log analysis, companies gain visibility into the application layer across the entire firewall. Previously, companies had to configure each firewall device separately. Now companies can configure their entire environment from a single application, and conduct firewall monitoring from a single application as well.   In addition to the firewalls, a sophisticated system of firewall log analysis with multiple, integrated capabilities provides tightly integrated intrusion detection and prevention, sophisticated malware protection as well as powerful application intelligence, control and visualization.  The integration of these tools with other firewall log analysis techniques makes it far easier to provide visibility across multiple threat vectors. The appliance also provides high-speed deep packet inspection, enabling IT to analyze traffic, detect problems and quickly resolve issues – all without having to compromise performance. Finally, a good firewall log analyzer includes streamlined reporting and alerting as well as real time dashboards to automate security analysis and eliminate vulnerabilities and threats.

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