Cloud Firewalls Simplified: Beginners Edition

by | 11.06.2021 | Engineering

Cloud technology is everywhere. From your photos to big corporations carrying out their day to day operations. But have you ever thought about the security needed to protect this vast pile of data? Security from external attacks by threat detection and elimination is the answer.

Let’s talk about security today!

What is Cloud Firewall?

In simple terms, a cloud firewall is a software or a firewall or security as a service network or security device deployed in the public cloud. Think of it as an antivirus for the cloud.

How does Cloud Firewall help?

It helps mitigate unwanted access to the public cloud as an antivirus helps you protect your personal computer.

CLOUD FIREWALLS
Cloud Firewalls Source: CloudFlare

In general, a cloud firewall consists of the same capabilities as that of a hardware firewall. But, a cloud firewall stands like a wall between you and the external attacks protecting your data from intruders.

So, be it on any on-premises or hybrid environment, we can use a cloud firewall to protect our data and the server.

Types of Cloud Firewall

There are two types of cloud firewall systems. They both exist as a cloud-based software service helping efficiently with monitoring all incoming and outgoing data packets. It ultimately filters this information alongside access policies to block and log all suspicious traffics. Let’s have a look.

These type of firewalls are designed to secure an organization’s network and its users. It is deployed off-site from the cloud. These type of firewalls can be often called:

SaaS Firewalls

Next-Generation Firewalls

These type of firewalls are cloud-based services and are deployed within a virtual data centre. It secures incoming and outgoing traffic between cloud-based application while existing on a virtual server. Thus, it protects the organization’s servers in a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model.

Learn about different cloud service models here:

Advantages of Cloud Firewalls

Scalability

Cloud Firewall scales automatically and protects all your systems as your requirements scale. In addition, the scalability helps in mitigating DDoS (Distributed denial-of-service) attacks without worrying about the limitation of bandwidth because, with the increase of bandwidth, cloud firewalls can automatically adjust to maintain the parity.

Availability

Cloud firewall has always your back. The high availability helps guarantee HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), redundancy power, automated backup and network services during a network outage or a site failure. Also, necessary updates can be implemented immediately without downloading large system updates.

Extensibility

Cloud Firewall helps you to spread protection ranging from your premises to your public cloud and anything in between.

Migration Security

Migration security is really helpful when data are being transferred from an on-prem location to a cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud firewall guarantees security between physical data centres and the cloud.

Cloud firewalls
Cloud Firewall Protection Source: CloudFlare

Secure Access Parity

Cloud firewalls provide nice and secure access, which is almost comparable to an on-prem firewall. It encrypts contents helping in a secure workflow.

Identity Protection

Cloud firewalls also provide identity protection which in layman terms means that they can integrate with access control providers and, in return, give users granular control over filtering tools.

Performance Management

Great performance management can be seen in cloud firewalls, and as a result, we can see that it provides tools for controlling performance, visibility, usage, monitoring, configuration and logging.

Disadvantages of Cloud Firewall

Dependability

One of the most prominent disadvantages that we can see in a cloud firewall is that it highly depends on the availability of their FWaaS (Firewall-as-a-Service) provider, and why is that? Because FWaaS do the needful of eliminating threats and downloading and installing updates.

Basically, you depend upon your cloud provider for having the protection. However, it’s not a significant disadvantage as the providers are pretty reliable with SLAs (Service-level Agreement).

Understanding Capability

Another disadvantage or a weak side of a cloud firewall is that it doesn’t have an idea about website visitors.

Why knowing the identity is critical?

If the firewall doesn’t know the visitors, then any malicious traffic can penetrate the site and can sabotage the authentication.

Cloud Firewall for Different Notable Vendors

There are many cloud vendors out in the market. They all have their own specific cloud firewall systems that provide intelligent threat detection systems and logging and monitoring of suspicious traffic. We will see how the big three in the cloud service providers, namely Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, manage their cloud firewalls.

Azure

In the case of Microsoft Azure, we can see that it also has its own embedded firewall system with Azure Active Directory (AD), Azure Monitor logs and Azure Security Center.

Azure Monitor logs and Azure Security Center have intelligent identity protection and third-party firewall support and threat protection. It can detect risky accounts and mitigate them properly and log them off. Also, it supports scheduled scanning and advanced antimalware protection updates.

AWS

When we turn our eye to Amazon Web Services, we can see they have a strong firewall system thanks to Amazon Guard Duty.

The Guard Duty is a threat detection service that continuously monitors for any malicious activity and unusual or unauthorized behaviour to protect our AWS accounts. It has the added advantage that it can be deployed with no software or hardware to maintain. Also, the alerts are actionable and easy to aggregate among multiple accounts.

GCP

Last on our list, the Google Cloud Platform can be seen, and we can observe that it has a strong security command system as the firewall, which protects data and services.

It provides data and infrastructure security, event threat detection, container threat detection, and web security scanner.

Value Proposition for Cloud Firewall

Cloud firewalls are very important when it comes to securing your data and also securing the cloud environment. So, it must be an important decision for businesses with major cloud computing stakes for storing their data or servers.

For small and mid-market level business, any cloud firewall will be profitable as all of their services comes with a pay-as-you-go model which means that you will only pay for the services that you will use.

For a business that has high stakes about their data and services, both cloud firewall and on-prem will be a better option as they will provide added protection to their large inflow of data.

Final Thoughts

Cloud firewall is an awe-inspiring tech, and the more you will learn about it, the better you will know about it. I hope by the end of this post you’re keen to learn more. So start exploring, and if you want to explore some more in-depth, beginner-friendly articles, feel free to check these out:

PS: We love making a developer’s life easier. Feel free to reach out to us if you want us to help you with a custom cloud security solution 😉

Happy Learning!

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