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SonicOS 6.5, the Biggest Update in Company History, Delivers Powerful Security, Networking and Usability Capabilities

Keeping organizations running safely, while improving business and user productivity in today’s accelerating threat environment, continues to be a non-trivial task for IT leaders. At the current pace of cyber attacks, we understand all too well that the effects of recent events, such as the Equifax, WannaCry and NotPetya attacks, have demonstrated their capacity to change the global business environment from normal to total hysteria in the blink of an eye.

When news breaks on new data breaches, we see a surge in conversations with our SonicWall partner and customer communities about security and risk assessments. These engagements reinforce our development commitment to ensure every new product release delivers more tools and capabilities to protect their networks and data, and subsequently avoid the unnecessary breach.

Delivering on that commitment, I am thrilled to introduce SonicWall’s biggest firewall feature release in its history. SonicWall SonicOS 6.5 is packed with powerful security, networking and usability capabilities, and meets the security operation requirements of organizations of various sizes and use cases. SonicOS 6.5 focuses on empowering IT leaders and their security teams to:

  • Elevate their breach detection and prevention capacity
  • Manage and enforce security controls across the entire organization
  • Bring the latest in wireless speed, performance and security for cloud and mobile users
  • Scale firewall networking, connectivity and performance for uncompromised, uninterrupted network services

SonicOS 6.5 delivers the following customer-focused outcomes as part of SonicWall’s expanding Automated Real-Time Breach Detection and Prevention Platform.

1. Bolster breach prevention capabilities for wired, wireless and cloud-enabled network environments

  • SonicOS 6.5 includes 60-plus new features, nearly half of which focus on enabling the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac Wave 2, to deliver matching network security performance, connectivity and security between wired and wireless networks.
  • The combination of SonicWall firewalls and the new SonicWave 802.11ac Wave 2 series of wireless access points gives customers the assurance that their users have uninterrupted, secure and fast access to business services and resources over wired and wireless connections.
  • Built-in features, like Wireless Deployment Tools, greatly aid in planning and building a robust wireless infrastructure, while Band Steering, Airtime Fairness and others improve the overall wireless service quality and performance to give users a safe, productive wireless experience. This helps eliminate dropped connections and slowness anytime, anywhere and in any environment within the workplace. Moreover, Dynamic VLAN assignment segments wireless users based on their roles and group associations to prevent advanced threats from spreading.
  • SonicOS 6.5 expands the threat API capabilities to help customers establish a path toward security automation. Through greater firewall collaboration with third-party security ecosystem, the firewall can automatically pull external intelligence sources for threat detection and protection, and security policies enforcement. For example, our Dynamic Botnet List feature enables customers to program their firewalls to download private third-party lists that contain desired security information, such as malicious IP and URL addresses, that they want the firewall to block for additional threat coverage.
  • For distributed organizations that have offices operating on different network domains, the new multi-domain security management capability in SonicOS 6.5 helps them manage and enforce discrete security policies across those domains. Based on service levels, risk tolerance, compliance and/or legal requirements, administrators can apply identical security controls to all domains or specific policy to a single domain or group of domains. This flexibility helps reduce the attack surface, eliminate security gaps, isolate risks and prevent any lateral movement of backdoor, network-based attacks, such as WannCry and NotPetya.

2. Increase scalability and connectivity of the firewall system

  • Advances in Layer 2/3 network and connectivity help customers optimize system availability and performance, and scale the firewall to deliver uncompromised, uninterrupted threat protection for every connected network domain. Supported on all SonicWall next-generation firewall (NGFW) models, including the newest NSA 2650, SonicOS 6.5 also supports daisy-chaining and management of Dell X-Series switches, Virtual Wire Mode, Dynamic LAG using LACP and Equal Cost Multi-Path (ECMP).
  • Using multi-domain security management in conjunction with virtual wire mode gives customers the ability to micro-segment and manage their virtual networks. These also provide independent security management, policies, controls and scanning to each virtual network with its separate security zone.

3. Improve ease of use and firewall management

  • SonicOS 6.5 introduces a completely redesigned user interface (UI) for a fresh, productive user experience (UX). This new UI gives users an executive dashboard loaded with security, user and traffic information. It also offers an organized, familiar and easily-understood menu-driven security management console. The dashboard presents a consolidated view of the live firewall security environment. This view includes a threat index, security events and data, network performance and connectivity, and application and bandwidth usage. The intuitive UI lets users complete security tasks faster, and with greater ease, from a single-pane-of-glass.

How Next Gen Firewalls are Increasing Your Business Profitability

Shrinking or flat IT security budgets and personnel; this is what many organizations of any size are facing daily. However, the security threats and compliance requirements continue to grow and become even more complex.

In response, many companies have implemented single security solutions on a reactive basis. For example, they might have started with a traditional firewall to protect their network, then implemented a web content filtering gateway and then added a dedicated intrusion prevention system (IPS/IDS) solution. Nevertheless, each of these solutions can come at a high cost and requires a single specialist to administer and manage; the overall total cost of ownership (TCO) goes through the roof! And these pain point solutions can leave gaping holes between them, exposing the business to potential security breaches and compliance violations, instead of helping mitigate the risks: this can’t be!

The advent of faster hardware and cores has allowed for the consolidation of once stand alone security solutions into a single appliance – Next Generation Firewalls (NGFWs). They provide dramatic improvements in protection versus traditional firewalls, particularly in dealing with today’s more sophisticated and rapidly changing threat landscape. They allow organizations of all size to do more with less and therefore save money!

In the UK, BskyB’s mobile Wi-Fi service, The Cloud, needed to upgrade the content filtering it provided, as it was becoming increasingly difficult to scale the service, and the performance was at risk. The Cloud selected SonicWall NGFW (SuperMassive 9000 series) with its content filtering service, which reduced upgrade work by 75 percent and ensured cost-effective WiFi service performance, delivering twice the capability at a quarter of the cost. Going forward, The Cloud can also use the additional NGFW security capabilities at no additional costs, and benefit from a more straightforward CapEx forecasting.

In Spain, Benetton looked to enhance store operation and productivity across the country by gaining better control of network connections between its stores and its head office. Efficiency is at the forefront of the company’s goals to deliver enhanced customer services at a lower cost.

The company chose SonicWall NGFW to connect and protect its stores and achieve its business goals. By replacing a traditional firewall with a NGFW technology, Benetton Spain ensures the complete protection of their network, while spending 39 percent less compared to their legacy solution; this is very critical to them, as they are able to fund new IT projects from the savings. Another key benefit of implementing a NGFW is in-store personnel productivity, thanks to the content filtering service and application firewall functionality; now shop assistants can access the Benetton Spain website and other sites that helps them deliver a better service to customers. At the same time, users from the marketing department have access to a full range of sites, including social media, which they need for their job, while protecting the network from potential cyber attacks. Also, as a retailer, Benetton Spain has to comply with numerous safeguards like PCI DSS to protect consumer data and credit card details. Because SonicWall NGFW provides IPsec VPN and a gateway AV service, Benetton Spain can tick the PCI DSS compliance box.

As these two particular examples demonstrate, the financial benefits of the NGFW technology are real and very much tangible, from improving employees’ productivity, to better customer service, operational cost savings and allocating budget to other IT projects, and meeting compliance requirements.

The threat landscape is changing rapidly with new types of malware, cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated and coordinated in their attacks. They are out to exploit every vulnerability, and if your organization is not taking advantage of the advanced protection offered by NGFWs, then you are at increased risk of a successful attack. Deploying a NGFW will provide the network protection you need, but will also help you to improve efficiency and save up some money you can re-invest into your business!