The Evolution of the Firewall
A firewall is simply a software or hardware solution that filters the traffic coming through the Internet into a private network. In a previous post, we outlined the importance of integrating a reliable corporate firewall as part of a holistic network security strategy. However, a standard firewall may not meet the needs of a modern mobile-first enterprise.
Consider the wired local network of the past, where every connected device was literally hard-wired into the system; it was easy to apply firewall filtering to these devices. Now fast forward to today, where the network edge has effectively dissolved and users require dependable access for all of their devices, regardless of their physical locations.
How can IT teams manage and protect this complex network? One answer: a mobile firewall.
What is a mobile firewall?
A mobile firewall offers many of the same features as a standard firewall, but it also provides specialized protections for the mobile clients connected to a network system. This solution provides a secure connection across the wired corporate network and extends the network to all authenticated mobile devices.
This type of firewall acts as a virtual fence between the mobile devices and the network, monitoring all inbound traffic before it is allowed access to network resources. Once the traffic is approved, it passes through the firewall and can access any of the requested network services.
How a Mobile Firewall Works
A mobile firewall works a lot like a regular firewall. When a mobile device user sends a request to the network, the firewall forwards a verification request to the network and contacts the database to authenticate the device against a list of authorized subscribers. If a match is located, the firewall opens to allow the device access to services on the requested network. If a match is not located, the device is not permitted access and the connection is denied.
If a network is designed to accommodate a significant amount of connected mobile devices, it is likely that multiple mobile firewalls will be used to process authentication requests. These firewalls are interconnected and form a firewall group that is capable of handling large amounts of traffic without compromising security. A firewall group functions differently, in that it relies on a set of instructions that accompany a device connection request to determine how and where to allow network access. If the instructions from the mobile device do not match any known profiles in the database, the network instructs the firewall to deny access.
Firewalls are Important to Enterprises
With the steady increase in mobile malware and other security threats targeting mobile over the past decade, enterprises need to understand that these devices can pose a significant security threat to corporate networks. A mobile firewall can be used to reduce threats and safeguard the integrity of a complex network.
In closing, we should mention that implementing this solution is just one part of a comprehensive security strategy and a truly effective security posture should also include components like a NOC, enterprise VPN, and endpoint security.