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NSS Labs Test Spots Weaknesses in NGFW Products

Firewalls are the most widely deployed network security devices. Enterprises expect next-generation firewalls (NGFW) products to prevent exploits and malware from infecting critical systems according to NSS Labs.

NSS Labs recently announced the results of its 2019 NGFW Group Test. This is the ninth year for testing Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) products. NSS Labs had notched the bar higher by performing a significantly harder test for security effectiveness, which exposed weaknesses not seen previously.

The results from the report revealed that block rates for simple clear-text attacks remain strong (over 96%) for nine out of twelve products. However, while known/published exploits were frequently blocked, test engineers were able to bypass protection in all devices with minor modifications to known and blocked exploits.

In addition, only one of twelve products properly blocked exploits that were obfuscated using Complex Evasions (HTML / JavaScript / VBScript).

The Other Key Findings include:

  • Enterprises expect when they purchase products that they will remain viable over multiple years.
  • While it is tempting to draw conclusions from one test, NSS Labs recommends enterprises favor vendors that consistently engage and improve over time.
  • Scripting evasions are challenging for NGFWs since they require real-time code analysis in order to determine whether a function is legitimate or obfuscating an attack.
  • The vendor claims to protect vulnerabilities (regardless of the exploit specifics) are largely dependent on the nature of the vulnerability and whether it lends itself to such protection. Test results found all products had room for improvement when confronted with unknown variants of known exploits.
  • Research indicates that over 70% of Internet traffic is encrypted using TLS/SSL. NSS Labs recommends measuring the performance of devices both with and without TLS/SSL enabled. Failure to do so could result in unexpected performance bottlenecks.

“Given the ever-increasing integration of the cyber and physical world, it is imperative that cybersecurity products work properly,” said Jason Brvenik, Chief Executive Officer at NSS Labs. “The good news is that while we found flaws, most vendors are committed to protecting their customers and are fixing their products.”

Research Methodology

Twelve of the industry’s NGFW products were tested to compare NGFW product capabilities across multiple use cases. Products were assessed for security effectiveness, total cost of ownership (TCO), and performance.

Of the twelve products tested, ten were rated as Recommended based on comparative scores for overall security effectiveness, TCO per protected Mbps, and performance:

  • Barracuda Networks CloudGen Firewall F800.CCE v7.2.3
  • Check Point Software Technologies 6500 Security Gateway R80.20
  • Forcepoint 2105 NGFW v6.3.11
  • Fortinet FortiGate 500E v6.0.4 build 0231
  • Huawei USG6620E v600R006C00SPC310
  • Palo Alto Networks PA-5220 PAN-OS 8.1.6-h2
  • Sophos XG 750 Firewall SFOS v17.5
  • SonicWall NSA 4650 SonicOS v6.5
  • Versa Networks FlexVNF v16.1R2-S7
  • WatchGuard Firebox M670 Firmware: 12.3 B589695 Ver-4.907

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Jyoti Gazmer

A Mass Comm. graduate believes strongly in the power of words. A book lover who dreams to own a library some day. An introvert but will become your closest friend if you share mutual feelings about COFFEE. I prefer having more puppies over humans.

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