Blog iconRSAC 2019 | Long Live the Firewall?

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RSAC 2019 | Long Live the Firewall?

Culminating world-class leaders in cybersecurity, RSA Conference 2019 was packed with insightful seminars, speakers, tutorials, training sessions and innovation programs.

Our very own, Jennifer Minella, VP of Engineering and Security, brought the heat as a panelist on RSAC’s ‘2028 Future State: Long Live the Firewall?’ session. Alongside Adam Shostack, Marcus Ranum and moderator Harry Sverdlove, the group of cyber experts discussed the current state of network security and where the future of this industry is heading.

What is firewall and network security?

The session kicked-off with the idea that firewalls are an “organizing principle,” placing the organization of devices and users of the network in “ours” and “not ours” categories. While this may be true, we have already started outgrowing the “ours/not ours” categories created and believe the lines between them are not defined. With changes in technology, endpoints and how we use firewalls, the network will not neatly fit everything into the traditional two category system of this construct. Switching to a matured version of the original “organizing principle” would still be too complicated for human processing to accurately manage. In the future, experts believe decision-making software will bring this vision to life and redefine the future of firewalls.

What are the challenges?

The topic shifted to a discussion on the challenges in the industry, highlighting the biggest gaps faced in security. We all agreed: people are the problem. Investing in the people responsible for the technology is just as important as investing in the technology itself. It’s simply not enough to provide employees with the resources to learn the implementation of new technologies and products. Investing in your employees upfront will save significant amounts of time, effort, money and provide a better return on investment.

Cloud-computing is also driving many changes associated with the future of firewalls. Today’s traditional firewall cannot keep up with enterprise applications necessary to maintain security architecture. WAN traffic increases with cloud adoption, causing data vulnerability and security management complexity. Luckily, SD-WAN is a software defined approach to managing the wide-area network. SD-WAN simplifies management, improves cloud application performance and offers advanced security protection to combat traditional WAN issues.

So what does this mean?

Firewalls are not dead. In fact, the evolution of technology will continue to change security as we know it. Though new technology brings innovative solutions, it also introduces new challenges. Firewalls will undergo drastic changes to adapt to new technologies moving forward. Current technologies such as IPv6 and IoT communicate, connect and are secured differently than traditional network endpoints. Firewall functions will be unable to perform these processes and in turn must evolve to work with them.

Change is the only thing certain when predicting the future network of 2028. We predict that the future of networking and firewalls will rely on a variety of certificates, tokens and passphrases to connect users and devices to the network. System administrators and teams will manage the desired assets by controlling the access and authorization of devices and users. An infrastructure that makes decisions more accurately than humans will characterize the future of firewall.