Managed Virtual Firewall

A virtual firewall, also known as a cloud firewall, is a virtual appliance designed to provide the same security and inspection capabilities as a physical next-generation firewall (NGFW) appliance.

However, virtual firewalls often have capabilities specifically designed for deployment in the cloud, making an understanding of the benefits of a virtual firewall vs a physical firewall essential for effectively protecting an organization’s virtualized environments

How a Virtual Firewall Works

Virtual firewalls are commonly deployed as either a virtual machine within a cloud-based environment or via a FWaaS offering. This enables an organization to take advantage of the flexibility and scalability of the cloud in their security as well.

Like any firewall, a virtual or cloud firewall needs to be able to inspect the traffic entering and leaving its protected network. A virtual firewall has a couple of options for doing so:

  • Bridge Mode: A virtual firewall can be deployed like a physical firewall, sitting directly in the path of traffic. This enables it to inspect and allow or block any traffic that is attempting to enter or leave the virtual environment over the bridge.
  • Cloud-Native APIs: Many cloud services offer an API, such as AWS VPC Traffic Mirroring, that provides visibility into traffic flows into an organization’s cloud deployment. Virtual firewalls can also take advantage of this virtual network tap to perform inspection of traffic entering and leaving the protected virtual environment.

This visibility enables a cloud firewall to apply its integrated security policies and any built-in security capabilities, such as sandboxed analysis of suspicious content. Depending on the deployment and configuration settings, the firewall can also be configured to block attempted attacks or generate alerts.