Six Tips for Selecting a Firewall Sandbox

Network firewalls have evolved from 1st generation simple packet filters to advanced devices that evolve so fast that labeling them as “next-generation (NG)” is the best way to classify them. They are often defined by the services that are attached to them and one of the greatest and newest internet security technologies to service today’s firewall is the sandbox. A sandbox is an isolated environment where suspicious files or applications can be run, examined and probed before they can be passed through a firewall and into a network. Applications, such as anti-virus, are best known for detecting and stopping known threats, but a sandbox is designed to detect unknown attacks designed to circumvent network security measures. Think of it as a bomb squad opening packages in a secluded open-air environment instead of a crowded stadium.

So, if you want to try this technology, how do you get started? With numerous vendors in this space, each with their promises and bold announcements, how do you cut through the noise? When you are shopping for a firewall and/or a sandbox, please consider these six tips:

  1. Look for a sandbox that has multi-engine support. First generation sandboxes use a siloed approach to examining files but malware authors are designing their code to detect and evade this technology. Leverage a multi-engine sandbox to cover analytical gaps and mitigate the need to deploy multiple vendor’s solutions. Simply put, using a single-engine sandbox is akin to trying to catch insects with a fishing line instead of a net.
  2. Before making a decision, look for any file type and size limits. Organizations use a broad range of operating systems that support everything from network systems to mobile devices. A sandbox needs to be able to examine a very broad range of file types without any limits to the size of the file.
  3. Files need to be held at the gateway before they are allowed to enter the perimeter of the network. Beware of any sandbox that delivers files before a verdict, otherwise it would be better to invest your budget into vulnerability assessment tools because you could be allowing havoc to ensue without proper management.
  4. With nearly one million pieces of malware being created every day, the threat landscape changes on a daily basis. Network and security administrators can’t stay on top of manual patches. Look to a sandbox that can rapidly deploys remediation signatures on a global scale. SonicWall’s sandbox, Capture ATP, quickly sends these signatures to all SonicWall Network Security Appliances within your network.
  5. Single point solutions issued by one-hit-wonder security vendors are often good at what they do, but do they interface with other network security appliances? If they can, it is often due to the manipulation of fickle and poorly supported APIs. Look for a next generation firewall that can communicate and update threat intelligence dynamically throughout your network security infrastructure for ease of management and improved security.
  6. The use of SSL/TLS encryption (AKA HTTPS) is on the rise by not only website and security administrators but by hackers as well. To evade detection, threats are often hidden within encrypted traffic. Evaluate sandboxes based on how they can inspect encrypted traffic.

Keep these tips in mind when evaluating a next-generation firewall and/or a sandbox feature. It is for these reasons that I recommend  SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection Service. Patrick Sweeney, vice president of Marketing and Product Management of SonicWall Security, authored a blog detailing our  SonicWall Capture ATP Service. Currently in beta, this service will give you great protection against advanced persistent threats (APTs) and zero-day attacks. This multi-engine sandbox platform includes virtualized sandboxing, full system emulation, and hypervisor-level analysis technology all while resisting evasion tactics that hobble other sandboxing solutions. I also recommend reading SonicWall Security’s executive brief titled 5 Ways Your Firewall Sandboxes Can Fail.

Hear from Dmitriy Ayrapetov, SonicWall Security’s director of Product Management, on how you can maximize zero-day threat protection with SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), a cloud-based multi-engine solution that stops unknown attacks at the gateway.

Brook Chelmo on Twitter
Brook Chelmo
Sr Product Marketing Manager | SonicWall
Brook handles all product marketing responsibilities for SonicWall security services and serves as SonicWall’s ransomware tsar. Fascinated in the growth of consumer internet, Brook dabbled in grey-hat hacking in the mid to late 90’s while also working and volunteering in many non-profit organizations. After spending the better part of a decade adventuring and supporting organizations around the globe, he ventured into the evolving world of storage and security. He serves humanity by teaching security best practices, promoting and developing technology.
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