What is a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW)? [Benefits + Features]


What is a NextGen Firewall?

A next-generation firewall (NGFW) is part of the 3rd generation of firewall technology. It surpasses traditional firewalls, combining various network functions such as application firewalls, deep packet inspection (DPI), and intrusion prevention systems (IPS).

Additional techniques include encrypted traffic inspection, website filtering, and antivirus checks bolstered by third-party identity management integration and SSL decryption.

In comparison, NGFWs encompass traditional firewall features like packet filtering, NAT, stateful inspection, and VPN support, but they expand into OSI model layers for more precise traffic filtering.

NGFWs incorporate intrusion prevention and application control, conducting thorough packet payload analysis and signature matching to counter exploits and malware. 

The threat environment has evolved, with web-based malware, targeted, and application-layer attacks, leading to the ineffectiveness of port-based protection. NGFWs offer refined control over applications, enabling rule-setting for network access.

This identity-based security approach advances beyond traditional IP-address-bound security, providing enhanced awareness and control over applications within the network.

What Are the Features of a NextGen Firewall?

Next-generation firewall specifications vary but generally include the following:

  • Application awareness: Filters traffic based on applications, allowing complex rule applications.
  • Deep-packet inspection: Analyzes packet data, surpassing traditional header inspection.
  • Intrusion Prevention System (IPS): Monitors and blocks network threats using signatures, policies, or anomaly detection.
  • High performance: Ensures efficient traffic monitoring without business disruption.
  • External threat intelligence: Connects to threat networks for updated information and identifying malicious entities.
  • Additional features: These may encompass antivirus, malware protection, and Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) in cloud-based deployment.

What Are the Benefits of a NextGen Firewall?

The benefits of an NGFW include the following:

  • Application-Level Security: Robust protection against application-based threats, detecting and mitigating attacks at the application layer.
  • Enhanced Threat Detection: Identification and blockage of a wider range of threats, including those hidden within the data payload of packets.
  • Flexible Rule Enforcement: the ability for administrators to create and enforce granular rules based on applications, users, and content, providing more precise control over network traffic.
  • Intrusion Prevention: Monitoring of the network for malicious activities, preventing them from causing harm, whether through signature-based matching, policy-based blocking, or anomaly detection.
  • High Performance: Handling of large volumes of network traffic without causing slowdowns, ensuring smooth operations even under heavy load.
  • External Threat Intelligence: Connectivity to threat intelligence networks enabling them to stay updated on the latest threats, improving their ability to identify and respond to emerging risks.
  • Cloud Deployment and Scalability: Some NGFWs can be implemented as Firewall as a Service (FWaaS) in the cloud, offering scalability, automatic updates, and reduced maintenance burden for IT teams.
  • Reduced Complexity: Consolidation of multiple security functions, such as application control, deep-packet inspection, and antivirus protection, into a single device, simplifying the security infrastructure.
  • Compliance Support: Ability to assist organizations in meeting regulatory compliance requirements by providing better control over data traffic and enhanced security measures.
  • Adaptation to Modern Threats: Capacity to address evolving threats like web-based attacks, targeted attacks, and application-layer vulnerabilities, providing proactive defense against emerging risks.

In summary, NGFWs offer comprehensive and dynamic security features that go beyond traditional firewalls, providing effective protection against the diverse and sophisticated threats that businesses face in today’s digital landscape.

Next-Generation Firewall vs. Traditional Firewall

Traditional firewalls protect enterprise networks by inspecting and blocking traffic based on ports and protocols, primarily focusing on the data link and transport layers (layers 2 and 4 of the OSI model). 

In the past, this static method was effective since the IT environment was less complex, and applications were commonly associated with specific ports. However, as the IT landscape has evolved into a more dynamic and intricate ecosystem, this approach has shown limitations in effectively countering advanced security threats.

Today, increasingly sophisticated threats demand a more intelligent and adaptable security solution. This is where next-generation firewalls come into play. Unlike their traditional counterparts, next-gen firewalls exhibit a higher level of intelligence.

They can analyze and filter packets not just based on simple port and protocol information but also on the application layer (layer 7 of the OSI model). Moreover, they can make fine-grained differentiations based on network traffic behavior, allowing for more precise and effective threat detection and prevention.

One of the distinguishing features of next-generation firewalls is their ability to tap into external sources of data to recognize emerging threats and patterns.

By integrating external threat intelligence, these firewalls remain updated with the latest information about potential risks, enabling them to proactively identify and thwart attackers. This adaptive and flexible approach marks a significant departure from the generic methodologies employed by traditional firewalls.

Next-generation firewalls offer a smarter, more adaptable, and more effective defense strategy against modern cybersecurity challenges.

What to Look For in a Nextgen Firewall

When considering a next-generation firewall, here’s a list of our top 20 features to look for to ensure advanced security, rapid threat detection, comprehensive visibility, and seamless integration within your security infrastructure:

  1. Breach Prevention and Advanced Security: A paramount aspect of any firewall is its capacity to prevent breaches and safeguard your organization. Seek capabilities that halt attacks before they infiltrate your network.
  1. Advanced Malware Detection: Complement prevention with the ability to swiftly identify advanced malware that might bypass initial defenses. A top-tier NGFW should swiftly recognize and counter such threats.
  1. Integrated Next-Gen IPS: Choose a firewall equipped with a robust next-generation Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) to promptly identify subtle threats and counteract them effectively.
  1. URL Filtering: Ensure your NGFW provides URL filtering capabilities to enforce policies on a vast number of URLs
  1. Built-in Sandbox and Malware Protection: Look for built-in sandboxing and Advanced Malware Protection features that continually analyze file behavior, rapidly detecting and eliminating potential threats.
  1. Threat Intelligence: Opt for a firewall that collaborates with a world-class threat intelligence organization to receive up-to-date intelligence and effectively combat emerging threats.
  1. Comprehensive Network Visibility: Your selected firewall should provide a comprehensive view of network activity and contextual awareness to detect and counteract malicious behavior promptly.
  1. Threat Monitoring: Tools that help you gain insights into threat activities across users, hosts, networks, and devices. Understand the origin, movement, and impact of threats within your network.
  1. Application and Website Tracking: Visibility into active applications and websites for comprehensive network management.
  1. Internal Communications Monitoring: Make sure your NGFW can facilitate the monitoring of communications between virtual machines, file transfers, and other network activities.
  1. Flexible Management and Deployment: Regardless of your organization’s size, a versatile NGFW should offer management options suitable for your needs, including on-box and centralized management solutions.
  1. Deployment Flexibility: Choose a firewall that allows deployment either on-premises or in the cloud through a virtual firewall setup.
  1. Customization and Scalability: Seek features that can be tailored to your requirements, enabling you to activate advanced capabilities through subscriptions.
  1. Throughput Variability: Look for a range of throughput speeds to match your network demands.
  1. Swift Threat Detection: Traditional timelines for threat detection are insufficient. Prioritize NGFWs that can identify threats within seconds, drastically reducing response times.
  1. Breach Presence Detection: Choose a firewall that can identify the presence of a successful breach within hours or minutes, ensuring prompt action.
  1. Alert Prioritization: Select a firewall that ranks alerts, allowing you to swiftly and accurately address threats.
  1. Automation and Product Integrations: Choose an NGFW that seamlessly integrates with other security tools from the same vendor, fostering collaboration within your security architecture.
  1. Automated Information Sharing: Look for a firewall that automatically shares threat data, event information, policy updates, and contextual insights with other security tools.
  1. Automated Security Tasks: Prioritize firewalls that streamline security tasks through automation, including impact assessment, policy management, user identification, and more.

Elevating Network Security with Next-Gen Firewalls

As technology evolves and cyber threats become more sophisticated, the role of firewalls in safeguarding organizations’ digital assets has become increasingly vital. While effective in their time, traditional firewalls are now faced with challenges beyond their scope.

NextGen Firewalls have advanced features that provide comprehensive protection against modern threats. With capabilities like application-level security, deep packet inspection, intrusion prevention, and dynamic threat intelligence integration, NGFWs represent a paradigm shift in network defense.

Experience the Future of Network Security with Perimeter81’s NextGen Firewall Solutions

Perimeter81’s cutting-edge NextGen Firewall solutions offer a holistic approach to threat detection and prevention, providing breach prevention, advanced malware protection, comprehensive visibility, flexible deployment, and seamless integration. Take the next step in securing your network — explore our NextGen Firewall solutions today.


What is the next generation of firewalls?
The next generation of firewalls (NGFWs) is a smarter evolution of traditional firewalls. They seamlessly integrate traditional firewall functions with advanced features like application identification, deep packet inspection, and intrusion prevention.

This enhanced intelligence empowers NGFWs to provide comprehensive and effective network security, adeptly countering the dynamic and intricate nature of modern cyber threats. By offering improved visibility, threat detection, and prevention, NGFWs stand as a vital pillar of contemporary cybersecurity strategies.
Is NGFW Hardware or Software?
NGFW can be both hardware and software-based, with an additional option in cloud technology. Hardware NGFWs are physical devices deployed within a network infrastructure, while software NGFWs are virtual appliances or applications installed on existing hardware or virtualized environments.

Cloud-based NGFWs (Cloud Firewall or Firewall as a Service – FaaS) – operate within cloud environments, providing advanced security features for cloud-based applications and resources. All these options combine traditional firewall functions with advanced capabilities like deep packet inspection and intrusion prevention to enhance network security in diverse contexts.
What are the Disadvantages of NGFW?
Next-Generation Firewalls offer advanced security features but come with downsides. Implementation complexity, potential performance impact, higher costs due to advanced capabilities, false positives disrupting legitimate traffic, ongoing maintenance needs, resource-intensive features requiring upgrades, compatibility challenges with legacy systems, privacy concerns with deep packet inspection, potential vendor lock-in, and initial configuration complexities are some of the disadvantages. 

Despite these drawbacks, NGFWs play a critical role in bolstering network security against evolving threats, requiring organizations to carefully assess their suitability based on specific security needs and available resources.
What are the Components of NGFW?
Key components of a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) encompass:

Enhanced Firewall Capabilities: Building upon standard stateful inspection, NGFWs provide a higher level of security with deep packet inspection and application-layer filtering.

Integrated Intrusion Prevention: Combining intrusion prevention with firewall functions ensures immediate response to malicious activities, safeguarding the network.

Application Awareness and Control: NGFWs excel in identifying and managing risky applications, granting precise control over their usage.

Threat Intelligence: Incorporating data from multiple sources empowers NGFWs to swiftly identify and counter emerging threats.

Scalable Upgrade Paths: NGFWs offer upgrade pathways to integrate new information feeds, maintaining relevance against evolving risks.

Dynamic Response Techniques: Employing advanced techniques like behavior analysis and anomaly detection, NGFWs proactively address modern security threats, enhancing overall network protection.
Why do you Need a NGFW?
An NGFW is essential due to its advanced security capabilities that surpass traditional firewalls. It monitors not only incoming but also outgoing network traffic, effectively identifying unauthorized data transfers beyond the network’s perimeter.

This vigilance extends to detecting anomalies like unusual spikes in outgoing data traffic, enabling proactive intervention against potential breaches or cyberattacks. By offering comprehensive protection, an NGFW ensures the network’s integrity and security in the face of evolving cybersecurity threats.