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News

Firewall operating system caters for fully integrated SSL VPN

Palo Alto Networks : 09 June, 2009  (New Product)
The PAN-OS 3.0 operating system for firewalls from Palo Alto Networks takes control and application visibility a step further for network security administrators
Palo Alto Networks has announced PAN-OS 3.0, the latest version of operating system software for its award-winning firewalls. PAN-OS 3.0 includes significant new functionality, including QoS features and a fully integrated SSL VPN. These features further enable enterprise customers to embrace new applications while managing the risks inherent in using those applications.

Organisations are using a wider array of Internet-based, consumer-oriented applications for cultural reasons, or to improve efficiency, foster customer intimacy, or speed up business processes. Security technologies, unfortunately, have retained an outmoded "block or allow" model, lacking the granularity and intelligence to recognise and appropriately control these new applications. According to Gartner, Inc., "Through 2012, enterprises that take a 'block or ignore' stance toward employee use of consumer IT will incur security incident costs two to four times those of enterprises that use 'embrace or contain' strategies…Security companies selling products that take simple block-all approaches will need to develop capabilities that support more-granular security controls."

PAN-OS 3.0 introduces traffic shaping in the firewall, enabling enterprises to ensure that priority is given to business critical functions. Palo Alto Networks' application visibility and fine-grained control capabilities are unique in the industry in offering organisations the widest array of flexible policy responses to applications - including allow, deny, allow for certain users or functions, threat scanning, and now - shape. Administrators are able to manage the bandwidth consumed by applications, as well as their priority - all in firewall policy, instead of simply killing applications or having no visibility or control over them. According to the latest Application Usage and Risk Report (April, 2009), in the sample of actual application traffic from more than 900,000 users, more than half of the bandwidth was being consumed by 28 percent of the applications, most of which were consumer oriented.

Tony Whelton, director of IT development and services at Wellington College, which recently installed Palo Alto Networks' next generation firewalls, welcomes the introduction of PAN OS 3.0. "Our decision to choose Palo Alto Networks was based upon a number of criteria, primarily its proven ability to address the challenges of identifying and controlling a new breed of social-centric, evasive and encrypted applications. The new features included in its latest software release will enable much more granular application delivery and control options as well as the ability to extend full visibility and control to encompass distributed users. These are key business challenges that Palo Alto Networks are addressing here. "

Rapidly responding to customer requirements, PAN-OS 3.0 also adds SSL VPN functionality, which employs the easy-to-use secure network extension model but extends the company's full complement of industry-leading visibility and control over users, applications, and content. Previously, enterprises have had to choose between an open VPN approach that was simple and cost-effective, or a high-control extranet portal approach that was expensive and complex.

Adding these computing-intensive features while retaining enterprise-grade performance is made possible only through Palo Alto Networks' single pass parallel processing (SP3) architecture - which couples a single-pass packet path with specialised, function-specific hardware processing. The QoS features in PAN-OS 3.0 enable organisations to shape and prioritise traffic based on application with multi-gigabit throughput, due to the single pass software married to hardware accelerated queuing. Similarly, the new SSL VPN capabilities in PAN-OS 3.0 enjoy the benefits of application visibility and control, coupled with specific SSL hardware acceleration.

"Applications aren't threats, but they do carry risk," said Chris King, Palo Alto Networks director of product marketing. "As a firewall, Palo Alto Networks uses a positive security model which offers organisations the flexibility they need to embrace new applications, and yet still manage risk - going beyond the outdated 'find it and kill it' model that many other security technologies are based on."
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