Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

9/2/2008
09:45 AM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Firewall Revisited: New Tools Automate Management

Firewall management tools handle previously manual tasks and eventually could become part of enterprise security management products

You’d think a mature security device like a firewall by now is just a matter of set it and forget it. But not so: Even the slightest tweak to one firewall rule can wreak havoc on another firewall, and possibly affect your overall security posture.

A generation of firewall management products is emerging that basically automates the mostly manual process of configuring firewalls, tracking firewall rules, cleaning up firewall settings, and optimizing those parameters. Security experts say these firewall management tools eventually could be integrated with security management products.

“Firewalls have become unmanageable,” says Anjali Gurnani, vice president of business development for Athena Security, a startup that tomorrow will roll out a firewall management tool called FirePAC. “A lot of products are doing change management... but there aren't many solutions that do deep analysis and optimizing rule sets.”

Athena Security’s FirePAC comes on the heels of consulting and research firm Matasano Security’s first-ever product, Playbook, which it rolled out in July. Playbook is a VMWare-based virtual "appliance" that gathers and manages firewall rules and revisions via a Web interface, and lets enterprises make changes to multiple firewalls simultaneously, rather than individually. Other vendors shipping similar products include Algosec, RedSeal, Skybox, Solsoft, and Tufin. (See Matasano Unwraps Its 'Firewall Mixer'.)

Organizations that run multiple vendors’ firewalls are struggling to manage these pervasive devices today. “Lots of organizations are not happy with the way they currently manage their firewalls, which was interesting to me as I walked into this market,” says Max Caceres, director of research and development for Matasano. “From the outside it feels as it should be quite mature by now. And it is not about finding value-add such as complex analysis, but in very basic operational challenges.”

Even so, Nick Selby, director of the enterprise security practice at The 451 Group, says that while these firewall management tools fill an obvious gap in security, they have yet to be widely adopted. “One thing that surprises us is that adoption has been slower than we expected in the enterprise, especially [with] those at the bleeding edge, like investment banking, pharmaceutical, and device manufacturing,” Selby says. “It may be that these products must first expand their usefulness to the point that planners feel they offer sufficient value for the money, despite our take that this functionality is already quite valuable in enterprise security management.”

Selby says some vendors in this space already have their eyes on the next level, integrating this management function for firewalls with IDS/IPS and VPN concentrators, for instance. “Then the products can be used in concert with vulnerability assessment and change management tools to provide better insight into how configurations are being pushed out and changed, and how changes affect devices of the same or different type -- how, for example, firewall rules might be supported by IDS rules,” etc., he says.

One key function of firewall management products is that they resolve conflicts in firewall rules, he says. “Does Rule X on Firewall 1 conflict with Rule Y on Firewall 1 or on any other” firewall, he says.

In the long term, the technology will become part and parcel of enterprise security information management, and change and configuration management systems, Selby says. He points to security management vendor ArcSight’s purchase of Enira, and Exaprotect’s purchase of Solsoft as indications of this ultimate evolution.

Adding firewall management to security management tools would drill down by device and configuration of a firewall or other security device, for instance. “Users may look at changes and conflicts in a device configuration file and choose from a range of options -- restoring to a previously known good config, or changing rule-by-rule,” Selby says.

Meanwhile, Athena FirePAC can be downloaded as of tomorrow for a free trial. Its pricing starts at $1,495.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/14/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-4462
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-16
IBM Sterling External Authentication Server 6.0.1, 6.0.0, 2.4.3.2, and 2.4.2 and IBM Sterling Secure Proxy 6.0.1, 6.0.0, 3.4.3, and 3.4.2 are vulnerable to an XML External Entity Injection (XXE) attack when processing XML data. A remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability to expose sensitive i...
CVE-2019-4747
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-16
IBM Team Concert (RTC) is vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-Force ID: 172887.
CVE-2019-4748
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-16
IBM Jazz Team Server based Applications are vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-Force ID: 173174.
CVE-2020-14000
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-16
MIT Lifelong Kindergarten Scratch scratch-vm before 0.2.0-prerelease.20200714185213 loads extension URLs from untrusted project.json files with certain _ characters, resulting in remote code execution because the URL's content is treated as a script and is executed as a worker. The responsible code ...
CVE-2020-15027
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-16
ConnectWise Automate through 2020.x has insufficient validation on certain authentication paths, allowing authentication bypass via a series of attempts. This was patched in 2020.7 and in a hotfix for 2019.12.