As we move further into a future filled with endless intelligent devices and systems and ever-increasing connectivity, one of the biggest challenges faced will be the threat from cyber-attacks, worms and malware and malicious, independent or nation state-backed hackers.
The biggest threats posed by these agents of disruption and destruction are to critical infrastructure as any compromise or disruption to industrial control systems (ICS) or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems can cause widespread disruptions and have potentially deadly local consequences.
However, businesses, institutions and organisations around the world are working together to research and develop ways and solutions to combat the new and continuously evolving threats their systems face.
One of the ways this is being done is through the use of Next Generation Firewall solutions that provide enhanced security and protection for their network environments and can help to reduce the risks posed by certain kinds of cyber-attacks.
In this article, we’ll be looking at how next generation firewall solutions are being used to combat the threat of modern cyber-attacks as well as how the need for their deployment has come about and what effect they may have on the future of security and that of protecting critical infrastructure from the cyber threats of the future.
A New Landscape
In order to understand how best to protect critical infrastructure, it is necessary to understand how cyber security has changed over the years from something of an afterthought to what has become one of the top priorities of nearly every business and organisation on the planet.
The days where cyber-attacks where a rare occurrence, limited in their ability to disrupt the everyday operation of enterprises and their networks are, unfortunately, behind us.
As we continue to connect and give intelligence to an ever-expanding array of technologies, the vulnerabilities that where once so few and far between are now in everything, everywhere.
Today, a plethora of cyber-attacks are available to those with the resources or know-how to deploy them and, with so many businesses and organisations having not given cyber-security their full attention for so long, the vast majority of potential targets are still playing catch-up with their security systems.
This has led to the need for enhanced security solutions to be deployed. Traditional firewalls will work to minimize or eliminate unwanted network traffic while allowing legitimate traffic to travel across the network unimpeded.
This is great up to a point, but in a critical environment, enhanced functions and features are needed to ensure the best level of security.
This is where Next-Gen Firewalls come in.
Understanding the Environment
Adapting to new challenges and obstacles is what spurs on much of the technological development that occurs in the world today. With this in mind, next generation firewalls were an inevitable consequence of advances in networking technologies and the development and expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Next Gen Firewalls include all the traditional functionality of such a solution, however, they also come with more advanced network device filtering and will often include functions such as in-line deep packet inspection as well as intrusion prevention devices to further enhance their capabilities and the levels of protection they offer.
Application visibility and control is another addition to next generation firewalls that can help to give users a higher degree of control over the security and traffic policies they decide to implement and also give them the ability to configure or segment their profiles through a graphical interface to reduce complexity and promote ease of use.
One of the other main benefits of many next generation firewall solutions is that they can deployed alongside existing firewall solutions to provide even further protection and enhanced capabilities and features to ensure that any cyber-security systems in use today are ready for the cyber-threats of tomorrow.
Ensuring Security in Critical Infrastructure of the Future
As we move towards even more integration and connectivity for our critical infrastructure and essential services, it seems likely that focus will continue to shift further towards cyber-security and risk-reduction with help from solutions such as next generation firewalls in order to protect their business operations and prepare for the network challenges of the future.
As our ability to combat cyber-threats improves, the development of new threats that utilize the latest technologies will likely become increasingly commonplace and risk assessments regarding the vulnerability of critical infrastructure against future cyber-threats could prove to be an invaluable way of staying a step ahead of both hackers and technological development and deployment.
As smart cities, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, advanced automation and advanced networking technologies continue to transform the way we live and work, this evolution will of course bring with it new and previously unforeseen challenges that will need to be addressed.
However, as previously mentioned, the process of adapting to new challenges and obstacles is the catalyst for much of the technological development we see around us in areas such as cyber-security and networking technologies.
This should give us all the confidence that the cyber-security threats of the future, be they ones we predict we will see, or those we don’t see coming at all, can and will be dealt with.