firewall overview
Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall
Fundamental shifts in application usage, user behavior, and complex, convoluted
network infrastructure create a threat landscape that exposes weaknesses in
traditional port-based network security. Your users want access to an increasing
number of applications, operating across a wide range of device types, often with
little regard for the business or security risks. Meanwhile, data center expansion,
network segmentation, virtualization, and mobility initiatives are forcing you to
rethink how to enable access to applications and data, while protecting your
network from a new, more sophisticated class of advanced threats that evade
­traditional security mechanisms.
Historically, you were left with two basic choices – either
block everything in the interest of network security, or enable
everything in the interest of your business. These choices
left little room for compromise. The Palo Alto Networks®
Next-Generation Security Platform provides you with a way
to safely enable the applications your users need by allowing
access while preventing cybersecurity threats.
Our Next-Generation Firewall is the core of the Next-­
Generation Security Platform, designed from the ground up to
• Protect your data centers through the validation of
­applications, isolation of data, control over rogue
­applications and high-speed threat prevention.
• Safely enable applications, users, and content by classifying
all traffic, determining the business use case, and assigning
policies to allow and protect access to relevant applications,
including software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.
• Prevent threats by eliminating unwanted applications to
reduce your threat footprint and apply targeted security
polices to block known vulnerability exploits, viruses,
spyware, botnets and unknown malware (APTs).
address the most sophisticated threats. The Next-Generation
Firewall inspects all traffic - inclusive of applications, threats and
content – and ties it to the user, regardless of location or device
type. The application, content and user – the elements that run
your business – become integral components of your enterprise
security policy. The result is the ability to align security with
your key business initiatives. With our Next-Generation Security
Platform, you reduce response times to incidents, discover
unknown threats, and streamline security network deployment.
Figure 1: Palo Alto Networks Next-­Generation Security Platform
Palo Alto Networks | Next-Generation Firewall Overview Datasheet
• Secure public and private cloud computing environments
with increased visibility and control; deploy, enforce and
maintain security policies at the same pace as your virtual
• Embrace safe mobile computing by extending the
Next-Generation Security Platform to users and devices
no matter where they are located.
• Streamline device, network and policy management
with intuitive management features to match your
­organizational structure.
The Next-Generation Security Platform helps your organization address a spectrum of security requirements based
upon a common principle. By using a balanced combination of network security with global threat intelligence
and endpoint protection, your organization can support
business initiatives while improving your overall security
posture, and reducing security-incident response time.
Branch Offices
Public and
Private Cloud
Internal Users
Using Security to Empower Your Business
Our Next-Generation Security Platform allows you to
empower your business with policies that revolve around
applications, users and content. It uses a positive control
model, a design unique to our platform that permits you to
enable specific applications or functions and block all else
(implicitly or explicitly). The Next-Generation Firewall performs
a full stack, single pass inspection of all traffic across all ports,
thus providing complete context of the application, associated
content, and user identity as the basis for your security policy
• Classify all traffic, across all ports, all the time. Today,
applications and their associated content can easily bypass
a port-based firewall using a variety of techniques. Our
Next-Generation Security Platform natively applies multiple
classification mechanisms to the traffic stream to identify
­applications, threats and malware. All traffic is classified,
regardless of port, encryption (SSL or SSH), or evasive
techniques employed. Unidentified applications – typically
a small percentage of traffic, yet high in potential risk – are
automatically categorized for systematic management.
• Reduce the threat footprint; prevent cyberattacks. Once
traffic is fully classified, you can reduce the network threat
Confidential Data
Internal Datacenter
Figure 1: Deploy safe enablement policies accross the
entire organization
footprint by allowing specific applications and denying
all others. Coordinated cyberattack prevention can then
be applied to block known malware sites and prevent
­vulnerability exploits, viruses, spyware and malicious DNS
queries. Any custom or unknown malware is analyzed and
identified by executing the files and directly observing
their malicious behavior in a virtualized sandbox environment. When new malware is discovered, a signature for
the infecting file and related malware traffic is automatically generated and delivered to you.
• Map application traffic and associated threats to users
and devices. To improve your security posture and reduce
incident response times, it’s critical to map application
usage to user and device type – and be able to apply
that context to your security policies. Integration with
a wide range of enterprise user repositories provides
Confidential Data
Authorized User
Malicious URL
Authorized User
IT User
Authorized Marketing User
Figure 2: Applications, content, users and devices – all under your control
Palo Alto Networks | Next-Generation Firewall Overview Datasheet
Figure 3: View application activity in a clear, easy-to-read format. Add and remove filters to learn
more about the application, its functions and who is using them
the identity of the Microsoft® Windows®, Mac® OS X®,
Linux®, ­Android®, or iOS user and device accessing the
­application. The combined visibility and control over both
users and devices means you can safely enable the use of
any application traversing your network, no matter where
the user is or the type of device being used.
Establishing the context of the specific applications in use, the
content or threat they may carry, and the associated user or
device helps you streamline policy management, improve your
security posture, and accelerate incident investigation.
Complete Context Means Tighter Security Policies
Security best practices dictate that the decisions you make
regarding policies, your ability to report on network activity,
and your forensics capacity depend on context. The context
of the application in use, the website visited, the associated
payload, and the user are all valuable data points in your
effort to protect your network. When you know exactly which
applications are traversing your Internet gateway, operating
within your data center or cloud environment, or being used
by remote users, you can apply specific policies to those
applications, complete with coordinated threat protection.
The knowledge of who the user is, not just their IP address,
adds another contextual element that empowers you to be
more granular in your policy assignment.
A rich set of highly interactive visualization and log filtering tools
provides you with the context of the application activity, the associated content or threat, who the user is, and on what type of
device. Each of these data points by itself paints a partial picture
of your network, yet when taken in complete context provides
a full view of the potential security risk, allowing you to make
more-informed policy decisions. All traffic is continuously classified. As the state changes, the changes are logged for analysis,
and the graphical summaries are dynamically updated, displaying
the information in an easy-to-use, web-based interface.
Palo Alto Networks | Next-Generation Firewall Overview Datasheet
• At the Internet gateway, you can investigate new or
unfamiliar applications to quickly see a description of the
application, its behavioral characteristics, and who is using
it. Additional visibility into URL categories, threats, and data
patterns provides a more well-rounded picture of network
traffic traversing the gateway.
• All files analyzed for unknown malware by WildFire™ are
logged on-box with full access to details, including the
application used, the user, the file type, target OS and
­malicious behaviors observed.
• Within the data center, verify all applications under use,
and ensure that they are only being used by authorized
users. Added visibility into data center activity can confirm
that there are no misconfigured applications or rogue uses
of SSH or RDP.
• Threat analysis, forensics and hunting workflows are accelerated with the AutoFocus™ threat intelligence service,
providing unique contextual threat data directly in
PAN-OS® from the device.
• In public and private cloud environments, enforce policy
and protect applications with the Next-Generation
Security Platform while keeping pace with the creation and
movement of your virtual servers.
• Across all deployment scenarios, unknown applications
– typically a small percentage on every network – can be
categorized for analysis and systematic management.
In many cases, you may not be fully aware of which applications are in use, how heavily they are used, or by whom.
Complete visibility into the business-relevant aspects of your
network traffic – the application, the content and the user –
is the first step toward more-informed policy control.
Figure 4: Unified policy editor enables the rapid creation and deployment of policies that control
applications, users and content
Reducing Risk by Enabling Applications
Traditionally, the process of reducing risk meant that you had
to limit access to network services and possibly hinder your
business. Today, risk reduction means safely enabling applications using a business-centric approach that helps you strike
a balance between the traditional deny-everything approach
and the allow-all approach.
• Use application groups and SSL decryption to limit webmail and instant messaging to a few specific application
variants; inspect them for all threats and upload unknown
suspect files (EXE, DLL, ZIP files, PDF documents, office
documents, Java®, and Android® APK) to WildFire for
analysis and signature development.
• Control web-surfing for all users by allowing and scanning
traffic to business-related websites and blocking access
to obvious non-work related websites; “coach” access to
questionable sites through customized block pages.
• Explicitly block all peer-to-peer file transfer applications
for all users using dynamic application filters.
• Understand SaaS application usage in your organization,
establish granular access and usage controls for each
application, and prevent the delivery of malware through
these applications.
• Embrace mobile devices by extending your Internet
­gateway policies and threat prevention capabilities to
remote users with GlobalProtect™ mobile security service.
In the data center, use context to confirm that your data
center applications are running on their standard ports, find
rogue applications, validate users, isolate data, and protect
business-critical data from threats. Examples may include:
• Using security zones, isolate the credit card number
­repository based on Oracle® forcing the Oracle traffic
across its standard ports while inspecting the traffic for inbound threats and limiting access only to the finance group.
• Create a remote management application group (e.g., SSH,
RDP, Telnet) for only the IT department to use within the
data center.
Palo Alto Networks | Next-Generation Firewall Overview Datasheet
• In your virtual data center, use dynamic objects to help
automate security policy creation as SharePoint® virtual
machines are established, taken down, or travel across
your virtual environment.
Protecting Enabled Applications and Content
When you apply threat prevention and content scanning
policies, the context of the application and the user become
integral components of your security policy. Full context within
your threat prevention policies neutralizes evasion tactics such
as port-hopping and tunneling. Reduce the threat target surface
area by enabling a select set of applications, and then apply
threat prevention and content scanning policies to that traffic.
Threat protection and content scanning elements available
within your policies include:
• Prevent known threats using IPS and network antivirus/
anti-spyware. Protection from a range of known threats is
accomplished with single pass inspection using a uniform
signature format and a stream-based scanning engine.
Intrusion prevention system (IPS) features block network and application layer vulnerability exploits, buffer
overflows, DoS attacks and port scans. Antivirus­/­antispyware protection blocks millions of malware variants,
including those hidden within compressed files or web
traffic ­(compressed HTTP/HTTPS), as well as known PDF
viruses. For traffic encrypted with SSL, you can selectively
apply policy-based decryption and then inspect the traffic
for threats, regardless of port.
• Block unknown or targeted malware with WildFire.
Unknown or targeted malware (e.g., advanced persistent
threats) hidden within files can be identified and ­analyzed
by WildFire across multiple operating systems and application versions which directly observes and executes
unknown files in a virtualized sandbox environment in the
cloud or on the WF-500 appliance. WildFire monitors more
than 420 malicious behaviors and, if malware is found, a
signature is automatically developed and delivered to you
in as little as 5 minutes. All major file types are supported
by WildFire including: PE files; Microsoft Office .doc, .xls,
and .ppt; Portable Document Format (PDF); Java Applet
Figure 5: Content and threat visibility – view URL, threat and file/data transfer activity as well as
compromised hosts in a clear, easy-to-read format that is highly customizable. Add and remove filters
to learn more about individual elements
(jar and class); and Android Application Package (APK).
In addition, WildFire analyzes links in email to stop spear
phishing attacks.
• Identify bot-infected hosts and disrupt network activity
from malware. Complete, contextual classification of
all applications, across all ports, including any unknown
traffic, can often expose anomalies or threats in your
network. Use command and control App-ID™, behavioral
botnet report, DNS sinkholing, and passive DNS to quickly
correlate unknown traffic, suspicious DNS, and URL
queries with infected hosts. Apply global intelligence to
intercept and sinkhole DNS queries for m
­ alicious domains.
• Limit unauthorized file and data transfers. Data filtering
features enable your administrators to implement policies
that will reduce the risks associated with unauthorized
file and data transfers. File transfers can be controlled by
looking inside the file (as opposed to looking only at the
file extension) to determine if the transfer action should
be allowed or not. Executable files, typically found in
drive-by downloads, can be blocked, thereby protecting
your network from unseen malware propagation. Data
filtering features can detect and control the flow of
confidential data patterns (credit card or Social Security
numbers, as well as custom patterns).
• Control web surfing. A fully integrated, customizable URL
filtering engine allows your administrators to apply granular
web-browsing policies, complementing application visibility
Palo Alto Networks | Next-Generation Firewall Overview Datasheet
and control policies that safeguard the enterprise from a
full spectrum of legal regulatory, and productivity risks.
• Device-based policy for application access. Using
GlobalProtect, an organization can set specific policies to
control which devices can access particular applications
and network resources. For e
­ xample, ensure that laptops
are compliant with the corporate image before allowing
access to the data center. Check if the mobile device is
up to date, corporate-owned, and fully patched before
­accessing sensitive data.
• Automatically confirm compromised hosts. An ­automated
correlation engine looks for predefined indicators of
­compromise network-wide, correlates matches, and automatically highlights compromised hosts, reducing the need
for manual data mining.
Network Security Management
The Next-Generation Security Platform can be managed
individually via a command-line interface (CLI) or through
a full-featured browser-based interface. For large-scale
­deployments, you can use Panorama™ to globally deliver
visibility, policy editing, reporting, and logging features for all
of your hardware and virtual appliance firewalls. Panorama
provides you the same level of contextual control over your
global deployment as you have over a single appliance.
Role-based administration, combined with pre- and postrules, allows you to balance centralized control with the need
VM M-100 M500
VM M-100 M500
VM M-100 M500
VM M-100 M500
Figure 6: Panorama can be deployed on a dedicated appliance or in a distributed manner to maximize scalability
for local policy editing and device configuration flexibility.
Whether using the device’s web interface or the ­Panorama
one, the interface look and feel is identical, ensuring
that there is no learning curve when moving from one to
another. Your administrators can use any of the provided
interfaces to make changes at any time without needing to
worry about synchronization issues. Additional support for
standards-based tools, such as SNMP and REST-based APIs,
allows you to integrate with third-party management tools.
Reporting and Logging
Security best practice means striking a balance between
ongoing management efforts and being reactive, which may
involve investigating and analyzing security incidents or
generating day-to-day reports.
• Reporting: Predefined reports can be used as-is, customized, or grouped together as one report in order to suit
the specific requirements. All reports can be exported to
CSV or PDF format and can be executed and emailed on a
scheduled basis.
• Logging: Real-time log filtering facilitates rapid forensic
investigation into every session traversing your network.
Complete context of the application, the content – including malware detected by WildFire – and the user can be
used as a filter criteria, and the results can be exported to
a CSV file or sent to a syslog server for offline archiving
or additional analysis. Logs that have been aggregated by
Panorama can also be sent to a syslog server for added
analysis or archival purposes.
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Santa Clara, CA 95054
• Threat hunting: Threat intelligence from the AutoFocus
service is made directly accessible in PAN-OS, speeding
threat analysis and hunting workflows, without additional
specialized resources. When further analysis is required,
users can sweep between AutoFocus and PAN-OS, with
pre-populated searches for both systems.
In addition to the reporting and logging capabilities provided
by the Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Security Platform, integration is available with third-party SIEM tools,
such as Splunk® for Palo Alto Networks. These tools provide
further reporting and data visualization capabilities, and
they enable you to correlate security events across multiple
systems in your enterprise.
Purpose-Built Hardware or Virtualized Platforms
Our Next-Generation Firewall is available in either a purpose-built hardware platform that scales from an enterprise
branch office to a high-speed data center or in a virtualized
form factor to support your cloud-based computing initiatives.
We support the broadest range of virtual platforms to cover
your diverse, virtualized data center and public and private
cloud requirements. The VM-Series firewall platform is available for VMware® ESXiTM, NSXTM, Citrix® SDXTM, Microsoft
Hyper-V®, Amazon® Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure™,
and KVM hypervisors. When you deploy our platforms in
either hardware or virtual form factors, you can use Panorama
for centralized management.
© 2016 Palo Alto Networks, Inc. Palo Alto Networks is a registered trademark
of Palo Alto Networks. A list of our trademarks can be found at http://www. All other marks mentioned
herein may be trademarks of their respective companies. pan-nextgeneration-firewall-overview-ds-050616
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